Amazon invests in autonomous technology startup

By CRM Staff

Toronto, Ontario — February 11, 2019 — Amazon has expanded its autonomous footprint.

The technology company announced Friday that it has invested in Aurora, a Silicon Valley startup that develops technology to power completely autonomous vehicles.

“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,” Amazon said in a statement about the investment.

Amazon is just one of several companies, which includes Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Shell Ventures, to invest in the autonomous technology startup. In total, Aurora received more than $530 million in funding, raising the company’s value to more than $2.5 billion.

The exact size of Amazon’s investment wasn’t disclosed.

Between 2015 and 2017 Amazon’s shipping costs have nearly doubled to $21.7 billion, according to its annual report. Autonomous delivery methods could be a solution to rapidly increasing costs.

For the better half of the past decade, Amazon has been internally developing autonomous drones for the purpose of delivering packages but has yet to deploy them. Two weeks ago the technology company announced that it would be testing small delivery robots on sidewalks in Snohomish County, Washington. Six robots will be used during daytime hours, accompanied by an Amazon employee.

Aurora was founded in 2016 by Chris Urmson and Sterling Anderson. Urmson, now CEO of the company, previously led Google’s self-driving company, now known as Waymo. Aurora, which according to Urmson now employs more than 200 people, has established itself as an open platform, where vehicles from different manufacturers would share data to help improve driving safety. The company has since struck partnerships with OEM’s Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Chinese carmaker Byton.

“If you think about the other big names that are developing the technology, they’re all tied up in one way or another with another larger company,” Urmson said. “For our partners, one of the things they may find appealing is the fact that if you actually want to place a bet on self-driving technology, we’re the legitimate independent alternative.”



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