Self-driving startup Aurora attracts major Amazon investment

Amazon is showing a growing interest in autonomous technology, having recently taken part in a $530 million funding round for Silicon Valley-based self-driving startup Aurora Innovation

With its ongoing development of autonomous delivery drones, the recent unveiling of a self-driving delivery robot, the use of self-driving truck tests to transport some of its goods, and deployment of robots in its fulfillment centers, Amazon’s investment in Aurora is its very latest move to explore the technology’s potential.

Responding to inquiries about why it backed Aurora, Amazon said it’s “always looking to invest in innovative, customer-obsessed companies,” adding, “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.”

In other words, the ecommerce giant will be hoping its investment will lead to greater technological advances that help it to further refine its complex logistics operation.

News of the $530 million funding round came on Thursday, February 7  via a blog post by Silicon Valley-based Aurora. In the post, it said Amazon’s “unique expertise, capabilities, and perspectives” would prove valuable in its work.

Aurora Innovation was founded in 2016 by experienced contributors to driverless-car projects run by the likes of Google (now Waymo) and Uber, as well as Tesla, whose vehicles incorporate Autopilot, a system that offers drivers a degree of autonomy behind the wheel.

According to Aurora’s website, its primary focus is on the creation of autonomous technologies aimed at “transforming the way people and goods move.”

Aurora has already gained plenty of interest in its short life, inking a deal with South Korean automaker Hyundai in 2018 to build self-driving prototypes based on its eco-friendly Nexo vehicle.

It has also partnered with Volkswagen to incorporate its autonomous technology into the German automaker’s cars. Deals between Silicon Valley tech firms and established automakers are not uncommon as they allow the latter to avoid the costs of building their own research and development programs. Fiat Chrysler and Jaguar Land Rover, for example, have both partnered with autonomous technology firm Waymo for ongoing work in the U.S., with the company recently becoming the first in the U.S. to charge for rides in driverless cars, using Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid minivans.

Aurora clearly has its sights set on similar goals. “Since we set out on our mission two years ago to deliver the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly, we have received an incredible amount of support and interest in the future we are building,” it said in its blog post, adding that this latest investment will help it to accelerate the development of its technology, as well as strengthen its team and ecosystem.

Cars

Waymo’s self-driving prototype obeys a traffic cop’s hand signals

One of Waymo's self-driving prototypes successfully navigated a situation that leaves even some human drivers confused: An intersection whose traffic lights are down. It waited for the traffic cop to wave it on.
Cars

Has Apple rebooted its self-driving car program to develop autonomous vans?

The on-again, off-again Apple car is back on track, but it's not a sedan or a hatchback. It will arrive as an electric, autonomous passenger-carrying van, according to a recent report.
Cars

Apple opens up about its self-driving car program in letter to NHTSA

Apple has traditionally kept details about its self-driving car technology under wraps, but it has revealed details about the program in a rare instance of openness. The company takes safety seriously.
Cars

Waymo rules and Apple trails in California self-driving car benchmarks

California's DMV releases annual reports of self-driving car disengagements on public roads. In the most recent reports. Waymo had the best performance, GM Cruise came in second, and Apple's self-driving program was in last place.
Cars

Watch a modified Audi e-tron electric SUV drive straight up a ski slope

A modified Audi e-tron climbed up an 85-percent gradient on an Austrian ski slope in a tribute to a classic Audi commercial. The vehicle used for the stunt sported an extra electric motor and spiked tires.
Cars

Mamma mia! Alfa Romeo will unveil a new model at the Geneva Auto Show

Alfa Romeo told Digital Trends it will unveil a new model at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show. It stopped short of revealing what it has in store, but rumors claim it will be a crossover positioned below the Stelvio.
Cars

Citroën says you could drive its tiny Ami One electric car without a license

Citroën's Ami One concept car is an electric vehicle that's as cute as it is compact. The miniature motor only has a top speed of 28 mph, so the French automaker imagines it as a shareable runaround for short drives.
Cars

Arizona city slammed with $10M lawsuit over fatal Uber autonomous car accident

The family of Elaine Herzberg, the woman struck and killed by one of Uber's self-driving prototypes, has filed a $10 million lawsuit against the city of Tempe, Arizona. They claim Herzberg jaywalked because she was confused by a brick…
Cars

Mercedes lets the sun shine in one last time with SLC Final Edition convertible

The Mercedes-Benz SLC convertible sports car is going out of production. Launched in 1996 as the SLK, the model has been a fixture in the Mercedes-Benz lineup across three generations.
Cars

Aston Martin’s next hypercar, due in 2021, will pack a hybrid powertrain punch

Aston Martin will follow up the Valkyrie and Valkyrie AMR Pro with a new hypercar, code-named Project 003. The car will debut in 2021, with production limited to 500 units worldwide.
Cars

Tesla will release fully self-driving cars in 2019 — with a big asterisk

Tesla reaffirmed its goal of releasing a fully self-driving car by the end of 2019, but it warned the system won't work perfectly 100 percent of the time. Convincing regulators that it's safe to use will require some effort, too.
Cars

Consumer Reports bumps the Tesla Model 3 off of its list of recommended models

The Tesla Model 3 is one of the six new cars that have lost their coveted Recommended rating from Consumer Reports over reliability concerns. In 2018, Model 3 owners reported body trim falling off and problems with the car's glass.
Cars

Lyft’s Shared Saver service offers cheaper rides, but you’ll have to walk a little

Lyft has launched a new ride option called Shared Saver that offers cheaper rides if you're willing to walk a little. Shared Saver designates a nearby pick-up point and drops you off a short distance from your final destination.
Cars

Kia is bringing a bionic-looking electric concept car to the Geneva Auto Show

Kia wants to hog the spotlight at the 2019 Geneva Auto Show by revealing a head-turning electric concept car. The yet-unnamed model reaffirms the brand's commitment to electrification, while taking design and performance to new levels.