Aurora is led by Chief Executive Officer Chris Urmson, a former assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University who led development on Alphabet Inc.'s self-driving auto project. Bagnell was a founder member of Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Centre and Uber's Advanced Technology Centre.
Having built alliances with Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Chinese carmaker Byton while remaining largely independent, Sequoia said the autonomous vehicle developer has "the best shot of being the most disruptive force going forward".
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While companies like Google (Waymo), Apple, General Motors (Cruise) and others have invested in autonomous vehicle technologies, Amazon has been absent from the scene. "We've been incredibly fortunate that there is a lot of interest in Aurora, and we have been able to pick who is the most strategic for us".
The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon's investment in Aurora will help Amazon develop an autonomous supply chain network with self-driving vehicles to move packages and reduce the cost of deliveries.
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In California alone, over 60 companies have DMV permits to test autonomous vehicles on the roads (most commonly with safety drivers in attendance), although the burgeoning industry is still dominated by cash-rich giants like Alphabet Inc. and GM. Aurora has now raised a total of $620 million that includes a $90 million round a year ago. Amazon now uses automation in its warehouses and is designing a future delivery system with drones to deliver packages, and is a technology company with a significant logistics arm.
T. Rowe Price, another new investor in Aurora, is Tesla's second-largest shareholder after Chief Executive Elon Musk, according to Bloomberg data.
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Aurora is among dozens of startups, automakers and large technology companies working on self-driving vehicle systems, eager to capitalize on a sea change in the transportation industry brought by developments in machine learning.