Published: Tue, February 12, 2019
Markets | By Erika Turner

Startup Aurora gets $530 mln boost to build self-driving cars

Startup Aurora gets $530 mln boost to build self-driving cars

Shares were down more than 4% to near $304.12 apiece after Bloomberg reported the self-driving startup Aurora Innovation has raised $530 million from a group of investors that includes the venture-capital firm Sequoia Capital and has financial backing from Amazon and T. Rowe Price. Shell Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Geodesic also joined. 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. Sterling Anderson, Aurora's chief product officer, previously led Tesla Inc.'s (TSLA.O) Autopilot team that developed driver-assistance technology for the electric-car maker. After dipping its toe in the robotic vehicle arena with Scout, an autonomous delivery robot, and collaboration with Embark, a self-driving truck startup, Amazon definitely seems interested in where the field is headed.

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". Chris Urmson, the chief executive officer, was an early leader of the driverless auto project launched within Google that later became Waymo, now widely seen as the first robotaxi business to emerge. The company presently employs around 250 workers split between its Bay Area and Pittsburgh campuses. Eschenbach will also be joining Aurora's board.

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Aurora is building self-driving technology, and the new funds are aimed at accelerating delivery of that technology, according to the announcement by Aurora. Embark also received significant funding from Sequoia a year ago and has raised $47 million overall to date. 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.

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