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“This funding and partnership will accelerate our mission of delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly,” Aurora said. Aurora’s management has a lot of experience in the automotive industry.
The company’s CEO and co-founder Chris Urmson is the former CTO of self-driving cars at Alphabet, which owns the autonomous vehicle firm Waymo. Co-founder and chief product officer Sterling Anderson led the design and launch of the Tesla Model X, according to Aurora’s website. Drew Bagnell, Aurora’s chief technology officer and co-founder helped found Uber’s Advanced Technology Center.
“We are always looking to invest in innovative, customer-obsessed companies, and Aurora is just that,” Amazon told CNBC in a statement. “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.”
The Wall Street Journal said last year that Amazon has a team dedicated to building autonomous vehicle technology. Amazon also announced a partnership with Toyota last year that will help Amazon explore ways to use self-driving cars to deliver food. Earlier this week, CNBC reported that Amazon is already hauling cargo in self-driving trucks developed by Embark.
Rather than manufacturing its own vehicles, Aurora is working with incumbents like VW and Hyundai, as well as Byton in China, to develop self-driving cars. It competes with Waymo, other venture backed autonomous vehicle start-ups like Zoox, and self-driving companies that were acquired by Ford and GM, Argo.AI and Cruise, respectively.
Neither Amazon nor Aurora revealed just how much of the new funding round came from Amazon. The e-commerce titan’s investment in Aurora follows its addition of risk language in its 10K filings, that Amazon views “transportation and logistics services” as competition.
Amazon’s delivery costs exceeded $27 billion in 2018. Using advanced driver-assistive technology, or fully self-driving vehicles, could help it curb delivery costs.