Amazon Invests in Self-Driving Car Startup Aurora Innovation
Of the numerous companies developing autonomous driving tech, Aurora Innovation is one of the low-key players. However, the startup will likely attract much more attention now, thanks to an infusion of cash from Amazon.
The online retail giant's Sequoia investment arm led a $530 million Series B funding round, Aurora Innovation announced in a blog post. Shell Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Geodesic also joined.
Aurora Innovation is notable primarily for its leadership. It was founded in 2016 by Chris Urmson, who led Google's self-driving car project before it became Waymo. The executive team also includes Drew Bagnell, previously of Uber's Advanced Technologies Center, and Sterling Anderson, the former head of Tesla's Autopilot development program.
So far, Aurora Innovation has made deals with Hyundai and Volkswagen, as well as Byton, a Chinese startup that is trying to emulate the success of Teslawith electric cars. It's unclear what Amazon's interest in a self-driving car startup might be, but the company has expressed interest in alternative ways to deliver its packages, such as drones.
Several companies are experimenting with autonomous delivery vehicles. Ford has deals with Domino's and Postmates to run pilot programs using its prototype self-driving cars as delivery vehicles. General Motors' Cruise Automation division has a deal with DoorDash to do food deliveries. Startup Nuro is developing a purpose-built autonomous delivery vehicle, and is currently operating a pilot grocery delivery service with test mules. Walmartplans to launch a similar service with a different startup, Udelv. Will Amazon be the next company to join the fray?
Carfax Canada has released a new pricing tool available on the Kijiji Autos site and an app that the companies say will help Canadians better understand used-vehicle values and empower them to make better decisions about used cars. The tool, according to Carfax Canada, will also help used-car sellers set competitive asking prices.
The company says its price analysis uses a proprietary algorithm that calculates the average price for a vehicle by considering its available history. That history could include factors such as odometer readings, damage and actual selling prices for similar vehicles in nearby locations. Carfax Canada says sellers and shoppers can use those findings as a benchmark to understand what similar cars are worth.
Carfax Canada says it is the exclusive source of vehicle history information on Kijiji Autos' platform, and the company's president and general manager Mark Rousseau said in a news release that the company is "proud to now also power the platform's price analysis tool with Carfax's valuation data."
Leanne Kripp, director of autos at Kijiji, said in a news release that Canadians mentioned transparency when telling her company which factors would be an important factor for them in using the new platform.
"By integrating CARFAX Canada data into our price analysis tool, we're able to provide millions of Canadians with a greater level of transparency that will empower them to feel more confident in their car buying journey," Kripp said.
If you’re planning a vacation in Sweden this year, take careful note of who’s doing the driving in that Volvo beside you. The odds are getting better that the answer is—no one.
That’s because Zenuity – Volvo’s autonomous driving joint venture with partner Veoneer – has just received the go-ahead from Sweden’s Transport Authority to begin conducting tests of its autonomous software on the country’s highways, according to a report by Reuters.
In September of 2018, Volvo had managed to secure a similar permit, but back then the Transport Authority had stipulated that a human being had to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel at all times.
That might be an acceptable condition for testing a Level 2, or maybe a Level 3 autonomous system, but Zenuity has its eye on the Level 4 prize. Successful level 4 vehicles have the capability of completing a trip from point A to point B on most roads without any human touch, so getting the green light on a look-ma-no-hands test permit was a vital next step.
Apparently getting permission for this test, which comes with a maximum speed limit of 80 km/h, wasn’t easy. Ever since Uber’s autonomous vehicle – coincidentally also a Volvo – was involved in a lethal encounter with a pedestrian last year, regulators have been understandably cautious about who gets to test, and where they get to do it.
Veoneer Chief Technology Officer Nishant Batra said the approval to do real-life tests was “essential for gathering important data and test functions,” and, if you read between the lines, essential for keeping up with Google’s Waymo and General Motors’ Cruise, two of the leading companies in the autonomous race.