Self-driving dream team gets $530 million from Sequoia, Amazon

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"The team at Aurora has unparalleled experience and expertise in solving the challenge of autonomous driving", said Paul Greene, a portfolio manager for the Baltimore-based investment firm's communications and technology fund. So, even if Amazon is agnostic about the vehicles it hopes to implement in the future, partnering with a company like Aurora for its transportation network development would probably work well with its current direction due to Aurora's multi-platform software.

"We are always looking to invest in innovative, customer-obsessed companies, and Aurora is just that", Amazon said in response to an AFP inquiry.

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The self-driving startup Aurora has raised $530 million from a group of investors led by Sequoia Capital, Silicon Valley's storied venture capital firm, that includes financial backing from Amazon and T. Rowe Price.

Aurora was founded in 2016 by three partners - Chris Urmson, Sterling Anderson and Drew Bagnell. It was founded in 2016 by Chris Urmson, who led Google's self-driving vehicle project before it became Waymo. The company presently employs around 250 workers split between its Bay Area and Pittsburgh campuses.

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"Over the last couple of years, we've met with more than 15 of the top autonomous vehicle companies from around the world", said Sequoia's Carl Eschenbach in an interview. It has partnerships with Byton, Hyundai Motor Co and Volkswagen to develop and test self-driving systems that one day, Urmson said, can be used by a broad range of automakers, fleet owners and other transportation industry players.

Last month, a Reddit user spotted a self-driving semi truck run by Embark Trucks, a startup integrating its software systems into Peterbilt vehicles, hauling freight for Amazon along the I-10 interstate highway.

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Major automobile companies along with technology giants such as Google, Tesla and Uber have been investing in self-driving tech, touting the safety benefits and the potential for services that let people summon automated rides on demand. Aurora raised $90 million in a funding round past year.

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