Amazon invests in autonomous auto startup Aurora

Aurora Innovation's Lincoln test vehicle

An Aurora self-driving Lincoln MKZ vehicle is seen outside the company's office in the Lawrenceville neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., September 21, 2018.

Aurora Innovation appears to have attracted much of that funding on the strength of its self-driving tech superstar co-founders, who include CEO Chris Urmson, formerly of Google's self-driving auto program (pre-Waymo); CTO Drew Bagnell, formerly of Uber's Advanced Technologies Group; and CPO Sterling Anderson, who helped lead the development of Tesla's Autopilot.

Early previous year, it announced its first strategic partnership with Volkswagen Group to bring self-driving cars to market. While Volkswagen plans to integrate the self-driving technology in its vehicles, Hyundai wants to commercialize level 4 autonomous vehicles (which can operate without human input or oversight under select conditions) by 2021. CEO Chris Urmson was with Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) self-driving vehicle program (pre-Waymo); CTO Drew Bagnell, worked for Uber's Advanced Technologies Group; and CPO Sterling Anderson helped lead Tesla's Autopilot development. Chris Urmson, the chief executive, was an early leader of the driverless-car project launched within Google that has since become Waymo, now widely seen as the first robotaxi business to emerge. Bagnell was a founder member of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Centre and Uber's Advanced Technology Centre. Eschenbach will take a seat on the startup's board. Embark also received significant funding from Sequoia a year ago and has raised $47 million overall to date. Amazon's no stranger to autonomous technology.

The self-driving vehicle startup has just announced that it's scored significant Series B financing support from a block of investors led by Sequoia Capital, a big-name venture capital firm that counts Amazon and T. Rowe Price among its backers.

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Aurora isn't just another self-driving tech company.

But despite the money pouring into the industry, the self-driving cars that are common on the streets of Silicon Valley are largely test vehicles with safety drivers behind the wheel.

Back in 2017, the reported that Amazon had a team looking into ways to move all those Amazon products and packages in driverless cars.

"Autonomous technology has the potential to help make the jobs of our employees and partners safer and more productive", an Amazon spokesperson said to Bloomberg, "whether it's in a fulfillment center or on the road, and we're excited about the possibilities".

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