Published: Tue, February 12, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Amazon Throws Its Hat Into Autonomous Driving Ring With Aurora Investment

Amazon Throws Its Hat Into Autonomous Driving Ring With Aurora Investment

CEO Chris Urmson was with Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) self-driving vehicle program (pre-Waymo); CTO Drew Bagnell, worked for Uber's Advanced Technologies Group; and CPO Sterling Anderson helped lead Tesla's Autopilot development.

A self-driving auto tech start-up founded by former Google, Tesla and Uber executives said on Thursday it had secured US$530 million (S$719 million) in new funding that includes a "significant" investment from Amazon. Bagnell was a founder member of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Centre and Uber's Advanced Technology Centre.

Aurora does not manufacture its own vehicles but works with auto manufacturers to develop self-driving technology.

The e-tail giant has made an unspecified investment in Aurora Innovation, a Palo Alto-based self-driving transportation startup. Aurora's leadership has a lot of experience in the automotive industry, too.

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Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is building autonomous vehicle technology.

Those self-driving frontrunners are making their own moves. GM CEO Mary Barra said the carmaker will spend about US$1 billion on Cruise in 2019 during Wednesday's earnings call. Aurora raised $90 million in a funding round a year ago.

An Amazon spokesperson issued the following statement to SYFY WIRE: "Autonomous technology has the potential to help make the jobs of our employees and partners safer and more productive, whether it's in a fulfillment center or on the road, and we're excited about the possibilities". Waymo has been in talks to create a delivery and logistics effort, while Ford has been testing driverless delivery of pizza with Domino's and groceries with Postmates.

The company, which has operations in Silicon Valley and Pittsburgh, plans to use the influx of cash to speed development of its "Aurora Driver" technology and strengthen its team and network of partnerships. Amazon invests in self-driving technology Amazon is very interested in self-driving technology.

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