Amazon has invested in a secretive self-driving car startup, lead by high-profile veterans of the tech industry.
On Thursday, self-driving car startup Aurora announced that it had raised more than $530 million in Series B financing, led by Sequoia. Amazon also made “significant investments” in the round, according to a press release from Aurora.
Aurora has been on investors’ radars for a while now, due in part to a leadership team that is famous in Silicon Valley circles: former Google self-driving car project head Chris Urmson; the former head of Tesla Autopilot, Sterling Anderson; and former Uber self-driving star engineer Drew Bagnell. Business Insider’s Julie Bort reports that the team has known each other for years.
“We’ve been developing these systems for over a decade,” co-founder and chief product officer Anderson told Bort in 2018. “Since long before it was ever trendy.”
Aurora quietly launched two years ago, but soon faced controversy. In January 2017, Tesla filed a lawsuit accusing Anderson of poaching employees for a competing venture while he was still employed at Tesla. The suit was settled in April 2017.
Instead of building their own vehicles, Aurora has focused on working with auto manufacturers. In 2018, the startup announced it was working with Volkswagen and Hyundai.
Amazon has been stoking its own self-driving car ambitions. In 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon had created a team focused on driverless-car technology. And, earlier this week, CNBC reported that Amazon is using self-driving trucks to haul cargo.
“Amazon’s unique expertise, capabilities, and perspectives will be valuable for us as we drive towards our mission,” Aurora said in a press release.