Aurora Innovation: Amazon invests in self-driving car startup Aurora

Aurora Innovation: Amazon invests in self-driving car startup Aurora

"This funding and partnership will accelerate our mission of delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly", Aurora said.

Having built alliances with Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Chinese carmaker Byton while remaining largely independent, Sequoia said the autonomous auto developer has "the best shot of being the most disruptive force going forward".

The online retail giant's Sequoia investment arm led a $530 million Series B funding round, Aurora Innovation announced in a blog post.

The funding values start-up Aurora at more than $2.5bn (circa £1.9bn), according to the Financial Times.

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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. Aurora's leadership has a lot of experience in the automotive industry, too.

Those self-driving frontrunners are making their own moves. Aurora has now raised a total of $620 million that includes a $90 million round a year ago. The new company does have some competition, including Waymo and self-driving companies that were acquired by Ford (Argo AI) and GM (Cruise). Even Waymo's robotaxi service in Arizona still has trained backup drivers inside. The new $530 million round marks marks the first time the online retail giant has publicly invested in the self-driving vehicle market, which amounts to a significant endorsement. 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 is a leader in supply-chain automation and is vocal about pushing the envelope with new technology, such as drones, to carry out transportation and deliveries.

Aurora is among dozens of startups, automakers and large technology companies working on self-driving vehicle systems, eager to capitalize on a sea change in the transportation industry brought by developments in machine learning.

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