Amazon moves into driverless cars with investment in USA start-up Aurora

SAN FRANCISCO: A self-driving auto technology startup founded by former Google, Tesla and Uber executives said Thursday it secured $530 million in new funding that included a "significant" investment from Amazon.

Bloomberg also said that Aurora has partnered with Hyundai, Volkswagen and Chinese electric vehicle startup Byton, which has received recognition for its futuristic-looking cockpits and a focus on bringing autonomous hardware to market quickly.

It forms part of $530 million (circa £408m) of funding secured from a group of backers including Amazon and companies such as fund management giant T Rowe Price. Aurora's leadership has a lot of experience in the automotive industry, too. Amazon, a logistics and delivery behemoth, has shown interest in autonomous driving, recently launching a program to help developers test their own self-driving technology. Embark also received significant funding from Sequoia previous year and has raised $47 million overall to date. It was founded in 2016 by Chris Urmson, who led Google's self-driving vehicle project before it became Waymo. The new company does have some competition, including Waymo and self-driving companies that were acquired by Ford (Argo AI) and GM (Cruise).

The fact that Aurora drew investment from Amazon, which hasn't made many high-profile moves into driverless vehicles, will invite speculation about the online giant's motivations. Amazon now uses automation in its warehouses and is designing a future delivery system with drones to deliver packages, and is a technology company with a significant logistics arm. 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. The company aims to accelerate the development of autonomous technology with the capital raised. Amazon invests in self-driving technology Amazon is very interested in self-driving technology.

  • Eleanor Harrison