Amazon places interest in autonomous vehicles with investment

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

Silicon Valley start-up Aurora said on Thursday it had raised $530m (£408m) from a group of backers including the online retail giant and fund management giant T Rowe Price.

The new funding brings Aurora's valuation to more than $2.5 billion, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Sterling Anderson, Aurora's chief product officer, previously led Tesla Inc.'s (TSLA.O) Autopilot team that developed driver-assistance technology for the electric-car maker. The company presently employs around 250 workers split between its Bay Area and Pittsburgh campuses.

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Those self-driving frontrunners are making their own moves. The new company does have some competition, including Waymo and self-driving companies that were acquired by Ford (Argo AI) and GM (Cruise). And on the earnings call, CEO Elon Musk said the company would be profitable for "all quarters going forward". Investments previous year from the SoftBank Vision Fund and Honda Motor Co. pushed Cruise's valuation to US$14.6 billion. The new $530 million round marks marks the first time the online retail giant has publicly invested in the self-driving vehicle market, which amounts to a significant endorsement.

And, of course, self-driving cars aren't just for people- they can also serve a fundamental role in logistics. The company is a leader in supply-chain automation and is vocal about pushing the envelope with new technology, such as drones, to carry out transportation and deliveries.

"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", said a spokesperson from Amazon.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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