Other funding participants include funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Geodesic, Shell Ventures, and Reinvent Capital, as well as previous Aurora investors Greylock and Index Ventures. The round reportedly gives Aurora a valuation north of $2.5 billion, making it one of the most valuable independent players in the autonomous driving market. 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. Co-founder and Chief Product Officer Sterling Anderson led the design and launch of the Tesla Model X and Drew Bagnell, Aurora's Chief Technology Officer and co-founder, was one of the founders of Uber's Advanced Technology Centre. The latter is seen not only as a linchpin when it comes to safety, but also to the monetization potential of future self-driving vehicles, be they conventional passenger cars, commercial vehicles or last-mile delivery robots.
The founders' impressive credentials have helped Aurora not just with fundraising but also on the business front.
"This funding and partnership will accelerate our mission of delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly", Aurora said.
Aurora says it will now be able to increase its team of 200 employees while continuing to develop the software and hardware used by cars from Volkswagen, Hyundai and Byton. The new company does have some competition, including Waymo and self-driving companies that were acquired by Ford (Argo AI) and GM (Cruise). Overall, it intends to be the "nerve center" of autonomous vehicles, and that vision has been funneled into what the company calls the Aurora Driver platform. Investments a year ago from the SoftBank Vision Fund and Honda Motor Co. pushed Cruise's valuation to US$14.6 billion. Amazon invests in self-driving technology Amazon is very interested in self-driving technology.
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