Tech Drivers
Tech Drivers

Amazon just invested in self-driving car company Aurora

Key Points
  • Amazon invested in a self-driving car start-up named Aurora.
  • Self-driving cars may help Amazon make deliveries. It's already hauling cargo with self-driving trucks.
  • Aurora raised $530 million, some of which came from Sequoia.
Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, speaks to a group of Amazon employees that are veterans during an Amazon Veterans Day celebration on Monday, November 12, 2018.
Leonard Ortiz | Digital First Media | Getty Images

Self-driving car start-up Aurora announced Thursday that it has raised more than $530 million in funding, from investors including Amazon, Sequoia and the investment arm of energy giant Shell.

"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 10-K 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.

— CNBC's Deirdre Bosa and Lora Kolodny contributed to this report.

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