ShareThis Page

Self-driving firm Aurora Innovation lands $90M investment

Aaron Aupperlee
| Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018, 11:49 a.m.
Aurora self-driving cars testing. (Photo from Aurora)
Aurora self-driving cars testing. (Photo from Aurora)

Aurora Innovation's 2018 is off to a booming start.

The self-driving car company with offices in Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley started the year announcing partnerships with Hyundai and Volkswagen.

It followed that news by teaming up with BYTON, a Chinese self-driving luxury electric car startup.

And Wednesday, the company announced it landed $90 million in recent funding.

The funding was led by venture capital firms Greylock Partners and Index Ventures. Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners and Mike Volpi of Index Ventures will join Aurora's board of directors.

“The money is important, but the headline for us is the people that are joining the board,” Chris Urmson, Aurora's CEO, told Forbes . “These are Class-A people.”

Volpi and Hoffman praised Aurora and its talent. Volpi wrote that Aurora respects automakers and understands the work it takes “to create a product that functions over a lifetime of 15 years, in sleet, snow and sun, and temperatures ranging from subzero to Saharan.”

“Last century, Henry Ford made history when he declared that the Model T Ford would ‘democratize' driving. Today, we believe Chris and his team at Aurora have a better chance than anyone of democratizing the self-driving car,” Volpi wrote on Index Ventures' website .

Hoffman first met Urmson when he was leading Google's self-driving car effort. When Urmson told him he was thinking about leaving Google to start Aurora, Hoffman told him when the timing was right, he'd invest.

“The Aurora team is taking their collective experience, with a focus on rigorous engineering and applied machine learning breakthroughs, to build a completely new approach to autonomous vehicle technology that can have a huge impact on the world, while doing so quickly and safely,” Hoffman, who also co-founded LinkedIn, wrote in a post on Medium .

Aurora was founded about a year ago and didn't come out of “stealth mode” until May. The company was started by Urmson, who helped start Google's self-driving car program; Sterling Anderson, the former head of Tesla's Autopilot program; and Drew Bagnell, who led autonomy and perception at Uber's Advanced Technology Group in Pittsburgh. Urmson and Bagnell have strong ties to Carnegie Mellon University and Pittsburgh robotics companies and were members of CMU's DARPA Grand Challenge teams.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me