Amazon Throws Its Hat Into Autonomous Driving Ring With Aurora Investment

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Aurora, a startup tech company investing in self-driving auto technology, has announced that it has secured over $530 million in financing from a series of investors, including venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, money manager T. Rowe Price Associates, and e-commerce giant Amazon.

The funding round was led by venture capital firm Sequoia, whose partner Carl Eschenbach will join Aurora's board.

This Series B round values Aurora at over $2.5 billion. It was founded in 2016 by Chris Urmson, who led Google's self-driving auto project before it became Waymo.

The stature of its founders has allowed Aurora to attract top talent, with more than 250 people split between the San Francisco Bay Area and Pittsburgh, as well as interest from investors and partners.

Having built alliances with Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Chinese carmaker Byton while remaining largely independent, Sequoia said the autonomous vehicle developer has "the best shot of being the most disruptive force going forward". They even have a team dedicated to building autonomous vehicle technology, according to the Wall Street Journal.

"This is really about accelerating and delivering on our mission, which is to deliver self-driving technology safely, quickly and broadly", Urmson said in an interview.

Most recently, the company invested in Balyo, a French-based autonomous vehicle navigation company which is able to turn forklifts into self-driving vehicles- meaning the warehouses can operate with fewer manual workers. Embark also received significant funding from Sequoia a year ago and has raised $47 million overall to date. It competes with companies like Alphabet's Waymo and Argo AI (Ford) and Cruise (GM). For example, yesterday's funding round included Amazon, which could someday use autonomous vehicle technology "in a fulfillment center or on the road", it said in a statement. Amazon invests in self-driving technology Amazon is very interested in self-driving technology.

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