February 17, 2019
Latest News

Amazon invests in driverless startup Aurora, valued at more than $2 billion

 A general outside view of the Amazon logistic and distribution center in Werne, Germany, Nov. 22, 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/FRIEDEMANN VOGEL

A general outside view of the Amazon logistic and distribution center in Werne, Germany, Nov. 22, 2018. EPA-EFE FILE/FRIEDEMANN VOGEL

Madrid, Feb 7 (efe-epa).- Amazon has invested in high-profile autonomous-vehicle startup Aurora, giving the online retailer insight into the fast-developing world of driverless cars as it navigates its growing logistics operation, according to a report from the Dow Jones Newswires report made available to EFE on Thursday.

Aurora raised more than $530 million in the latest funding round, which was led by venture firm Sequoia Capital and included capital from Amazon and funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Group, the startup said Thursday. The investors valued the company at more than $2 billion.

"This is a great amount of capital for us to build from for a while," said Chief Executive Chris Urmson, who helped start Google's self-driving program, now called Waymo, in 2009.

Aurora, founded in 2017 by veterans of autonomous-vehicle development, says it is developing a mixture of software and hardware that help vehicles see and navigate the world. The company early on signed deals with auto makers Volkswagen and Hyundai to eventually install its technology in their vehicles.

The technology is a natural fit for Amazon, which could use autonomous forklifts, trucks and drones to shuttle packages quickly and lower its logistical costs. Amazon's delivery expenses rose 27 percent to $27.7 billion last year, and the company has sought to carry more packages itself and rely less on shippers like FedEx.

Amazon has placed several bets on driverless-vehicle technology. It formed a team a few years ago to help it figure out how to leverage autonomous vehicles. It has also experimented with creating drones, and last month it announced it was testing a fully electric delivery system called Amazon Scout that looks like a small cooler and rolls down the sidewalk.

An investment in Aurora could lead to partnerships with Amazon down the road, though neither company was specific about future plans.

"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," an Amazon spokeswoman said.

Many autonomous-vehicle companies are realizing that deploying such technology will take longer than previously thought, because of both technical challenges and the high cost of sensors. The initial pursuits are focused on robot taxis, in-town delivery shuttles and long-haul trucking. Aurora is developing the computer brains that could make such vehicles work.

The sheer cost of developing autonomous vehicles is becoming clearer as companies test fleets around the US General Motors has raised billions of dollars from SoftBank and Honda to develop autonomous vehicles through its GM Cruise unit. Aptiv PLC, which is among the more aggressive developers of autonomous vehicles, opened a large command center with more than 300 employees in Las Vegas, monitoring 30 test vehicles deployed through Lyft's app for users to hail along the Strip.

The death of a pedestrian involving an Uber Technologies test vehicle last year has raised questions about the safety of the technology and whether cities are ready. Alphabet's Waymo has launched a commercial service in suburban Phoenix but still has human safety operators behind the wheels.

Aurora raised $90 million about a year ago, shortly after it announced the deals with Volkswagen and Hyundai. Executives at both auto makers said then they aimed to put Aurora's self-driving software into production vehicles by 2021.

Aurora attracted attention from the beginning because of its founders' pedigree. Urmson was the face of Alphabet's effort before he left in 2016.

The other founders are Sterling Anderson, who helped put Tesla's Autopilot driver-assist system on the road, and Drew Bagnell, who headed Uber's autonomy architect and perception team.

Aurora has more than 200 employees, and the company has 10 test vehicles on the road in California and Pittsburgh.

Lightspeed Venture Partners, Geodesic Capital, Shell Ventures and Reinvent Capital are all part of the latest round, along with existing investors Greylock and Index Ventures. Carl Eschenbach, a partner at Sequoia, is joining the Aurora board.

By Tim Higgins

News history
Trump meets with US trade delegation after Beijing talks

Washington, Feb 16 (efe-epa).- The president of the United States met Saturday with the team of negotiators who traveled this week to Beijing for a new...

Chile, the perfect window on 2019's total eclipse of the sun

By Alberto Valdes Gomez

Bruno Ganz, actor who played empathic angel, Hitler in Downfall, dies aged 77

Geneva, Feb 16 (efe-epa).- Bruno Ganz, the actor who rose to fame for his portrayal of an angel yearning to experience the feeling of mortality and also...

Panama Canal names new chief administrator

Panama City, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) on Friday selected a new chief administrator for the inter-oceanic waterway for the...

Mexican gov't unveils $5.5 bn package to support ailing Pemex

Mexico City, Feb 15 (EFE).- Mexico's government on Friday unveiled a 107-billion-peso ($5.5-billion) aid package in 2019 for state oil company Petroleos...

Trump says trade talks with China are going well

Washington, Feb 15 (epa-efe).- US President Donald Trump said here Friday that talks with China on a wide-ranging trade agreement were going "extremely well."

Kazakhstan ready to share oil and gas know-how with Central Asian neighbors

Astana, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- Kazakhstan's oil and gas industry plans to share its know-how with its neighbors in Central Asia in a bid to create a stable...

Brazilian economic activity expands 1.15 pct. in 2018

Rio de Janeiro, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Brazil's economic activity expanded 1.15 percent last year with respect to 2017, a sign that the South American giant is...

Turkish media is losing influence over people, says academic

Ankara, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Turkish media is losing its power to influence people and the news that is heard or read by at least half of the population is...

8 Vale employees arrested over Brazil mine dam disaster

Sao Paulo, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- Eight employees of Brazilian mining giant Vale were arrested Friday as part of an investigation into a mine tailings dam...

China, US finish third round of trade negotiations, claim progress

Beijing, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- The third round of negotiations between representatives of China and the United States to resolve an ongoing trade conflict...

Chinese inflation rises 1.7 percent in January

Beijing, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- China's main inflation indicator, the Consumer Price Index, rose 1.7 percent year on year in January, marking its third...

China exempts 14 Brazilian firms from anti-dumping tariffs

Shanghai, China, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- China on Friday imposed anti-dumping duties on chicken imports from Brazil but exempted 14 firms in exchange for a price...

Huawei accuses US of orchestrating geopolitical campaign against it

Beijing, Feb 15 (efe-epa).- One of Huawei's three rotating chairmen accused the United States of creating a geopolitical campaign against the Chinese...

Argentina records yearly inflation of 49.3 percent, highest since 1991

Buenos Aires, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- Inflation in Argentina rose to 49.3 percent year-on-year in January, according to data released Thursday by the National...

Panamanian state bank sounds alarm

Panama City, Feb 14 (epa-efe).- The state-owned Banco Nacional de Panama (BNP) said Thursday that a billion-dollar lawsuit filed by business magnate Abdul...

Brazil's Vale rejects blame for deadly disaster

Brasilia, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- The CEO of Brazilian mining giant Vale said here Thursday that his company should not be condemned for last month's collapse of...

Amazon scraps plans to open new headquarters in New York City

New York, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- E-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. said Thursday it has canceled plans to build a new headquarters in New York City, citing a...

Mexico's Caribbean region needs to win back tourists

Cancun, Mexico, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- The state of Quintana Roo, home to Mexico's most popular Caribbean tourist destinations, faces the challenge of...

23 miners feared dead in Zimbabwe after gold mines flood

Harare, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- At least 23 miners are feared dead in central Zimbabwe after a dam wall broke and flooded the shafts of two gold mines in which...

Airbus A-380: the double-decker giant of the skies that never really took off

ParĂ­s, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- The A-380, a mammoth double-decker commercial airliner, was supposed to revolutionize the way people flew to far-off...

Renault profit slumps on lower Nissan contribution

Paris, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- Renault SA's new chief executive plans to stick to the strategy set by his predecessor, after last year's profit dropped due to...

Popularity of Valentine's Day chocolate tradition dips in Japan

Tokyo, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- Chocolate is synonymous with Valentine's Day all over the world, but in Japan, where the sector generates around 20 percent of its...

Valentine's Day in Beijing

New York, Feb 14 (efe-epa).- In New York City restaurants, the party-of-one is becoming a cause for celebration, according to a Dow Jones Newswires report...

I agree Welcome to news4europe.eu. We use cookies to improve your online experience. Find out more.