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Amazon invests in CA-based self-driving tech firm Aurora

by Ronan Glon

Amazon's delivery costs totaled about $27 billion in 2018.

Aurora Innovations, a California-based company developing technology for self-driving cars, has received $530 million from big-name investors in the United States and abroad. One of them is a firm everyone is familiar with: Amazon.

"Amazon's unique expertise, capabilities, and perspectives will be valuable for us as we drive towards our mission," Aurora wrote in a Medium post. It also received money from a venture capital firm named Sequoia, and from Shell Ventures, among other companies. It hasn't revealed precisely how much of the total sum each firm contributed, but it strongly hinted the lion's share came from Sequoia.

Amazon's involvement is interesting. We're not surprised that a company which delivers hundreds of millions of parcels each year would invest in autonomous technology, but earlier reports claimed it would follow the path blazed by Uber and Waymo and develop much of the hardware and software in-house. Its not-insignificant investment in Aurora suggests that may not be the case, as does a report claiming it has started testing self-driving semi trucks made by Embark.

Whether it designs its own technology or not, Amazon stands to save a substantial amount of money when reliable autonomous cars hit the road. Its delivery costs totaled about $27 billion in 2018, according to CNBC.

Aurora explained it will use the $530 million it raised to accelerate the development of self-driving technology. The company's top executives come from high-profile firms like Alphabet, Tesla, and Uber. Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Chinese start-up Byton have already announced plans to source technology from Aurora in the coming years.

"With this newest investment, we will accelerate the development of the Aurora Driver and strengthen our team and ecosystem. The investment and strategic partners we bring on board today will help us build an enduring company," Aurora wrote.

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