Aurora self-driving startup worth $2 billion after new investment

Posted Jan 20, 2019 by Tim Sandle
The startup Aurora, which has an executive base drawn from Tesla, Uber, and Google, is set to be valued at over $2 billion following a new fundraising round. This significant sum shows the continuing vale of the autonomous car market.
File photo: Volkswagen with its Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP) in-car system fitted in a Passat Variant.
File photo: Volkswagen with its Temporary Auto Pilot (TAP) in-car system fitted in a Passat Variant.
Volkswagen AG
Reported by Recode, Sequoia Capital is said to be leading the financing round of around $500 million in the company, according to website Recode. The investment is described as the largest from Sequoia into the self-driving car technology sector. The investment will, TechCrunch reports, take the value of Aurora is over $2 billion. To date Aurora is said to have raised $596 million.
Aurora was founded in 2016. The three men behind the company are: Chris Urmson, who was one of the creators of Google’s self-driving car project (Waymo); Sterling Anderson, who was Tesla’s former autopilot chief; and the robotics academic Drew Bagnell, who was a co-founder of Uber’s self-driving car unit.
Aurora is a developer of a full-stack self-driving software system for automobile manufacturers (‘full stack’ means providing a package of sensors, software, and data services). Aurora has entered into partnerships with Volkswagen, Hyundai, and Chinese startup Byton, in terms of developing its technology and eventually seeking to implement it more widely.
The firm is one of a number of competitors racing to develop autonomous driving technology. The Financial Times notes that this emergent sector spans traditional carmakers such as General Motors and Ford, Silicon Valley giants Alphabet and Apple, and venture-funded companies including Uber and Zoox.
This adds up to big (potential) business. Autonomous vehicles are expected to give rise to a “passenger economy” worth $800 billion by 2035 and $7 trillion by 2050, according to a 2017 Strategy Analytics study reviewed by Fortune.
In related news, Aurora is part of a new venture called The Partners for Automated Vehicle Education (PAVE). This organization was announced CES 2019 in Las Vegas. The objective of PAVE is to educate the public and policymakers about the potential of automated vehicles.
Speaking about this, Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the U.S. National Safety Council, told TechCrunch: “It is essential to engage the public and their elected representatives to shape an informed future of our roadways… It’s not about lobbying, it’s about education,” Hersman said. “We want people to understand the benefits and the limitations.”