Amazon invests in autonomous vehicle startup Aurora

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So, even if Amazon is agnostic about the vehicles it hopes to implement in the future, partnering with a company like Aurora for its transportation network development would probably work well with its current direction due to Aurora's multi-platform software.

"This funding and partnership will accelerate our mission of delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly", Aurora announced in its blog, adding that "Amazon's unique expertise, capabilities, and perspectives will be valuable for us as we drive towards our mission".

Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) joined with capital venture firm Sequoia and T. Rowe Price Group Inc (NASDAQ: TROW) to invest $530 million in self-driving vehicle startup Aurora Innovation according to Aurora's press release on Medium.

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Aurora is led by Chris Urmson, former head of the Google self-driving auto initiative. Anderson had led Tesla's team that created the Autopilot system, while Urmson served as the Chief Technology Officer at Waymo (formerly Google's self-driving project). The company presently employs around 250 workers split between its Bay Area and Pittsburgh campuses.

Aurora Innovation is developing a full self-driving program from soup to nuts, including hardware, software and data-collection and -distribution tech. It has partnerships with Byton, Hyundai Motor Co and Volkswagen to develop and test self-driving systems that one day, Urmson said, can be used by a broad range of automakers, fleet owners and other transportation industry players. But the crowded field is largely dominated by the top five companies with significant backing and funding: Alphabet's Waymo unit, General Motors' Cruise unit, Zoox, Aurora and Ford-backed Argo AI. Investments a year ago from the SoftBank Vision Fund and Honda Motor Co. pushed Cruise's valuation to $14.6 billion.

For Aurora's Urmson, who has been working on the technology for more than a decade, this isn't a race: "We're clear with our investors that this is a long road", he said, "and at the end of that road is incredible impact on improving safety and mobility".

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