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Self-driving vehicle start-up Aurora Innovation, Inc. seems to be on track for a great start this year, as the company secured a new round of funding that will allow it to step up operations.

The autonomous carmaker concluded its series A round of funding with a $90 million investment, mainly headed by venture capital firms, Greylock Partners and Index Ventures.

Aurora’s first round of funding is one of the biggest for an automobile tech company, according to data from a tech market intelligence platform provider.

Terms of the equity investment were not disclosed, but it is believed that the deal is likely to value the company by hundreds of millions.

Aurora has been self-funded so far and the new funding is expected to help Aurora ramp up development of its technology, expand its workforce, and lift the young company in a very competitive sector.   

Data from a research firm showed that autonomous vehicle start-ups have already raised almost $3 billion in 2018.

Hoffman and Volpi Joins Aurora Board

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Even with the new funding, Aurora chief executive Chris Urmson believed that the new board members were the most significant part of the agreement.

As a result of the investment, Greylock partner Reid Hoffman and Index Ventures general partner Mike Volpi will be joining the Aurora board.

Hoffman said the Aurora group is a pioneering team, who will bring autonomous vehicles to the mass market.

Volpi on the other hand, believed that company can do better than Aplhabet Inc.’s autonomous vehicle unit Waymo a second time, since the people who created it were in Aurora.   

Urmson stated that Hoffman and Volpi’s addition to the board will help guide the company’s approach as they develop their technology, deepen their relationships, expand their partnerships, and bring self-driving systems to new markets and people.

The founders of company thought carefully about who they will add on their board, as they set up the business for the long term.

Aurora Ramping Up Development of Self-driving Technology

Aurora is working on an autonomous car platform that it hopes to be adopted by several big auto firms. However, unlike the other automotive tech start-ups, which are planning to build their own self-driving car, the company wanted to team up with traditional carmakers.  

Earlier this year, it has entered a partnership with major automakers, Volkswagen (VW) and Hyundai Motor Co., as well as with Chinese electric vehicle producer Byton.

VW and Hyundai aim to adopt Aurora’s technology in their own vehicles by 2021.   

The German auto firm and Aurora have been working on putting together the automotive tech group’s self-driving systems with VW’s new electric ride-hailing network brand MOIA.

VW is preparing to introduce test fleets using Aurora tech this year. The company will be conducting ride-pooling trial using MOIA shuttles, while the other fleet will be for ride-sharing service in the US and Germany.

Nonetheless, Hoffman said that the adoption of autonomous vehicles might take a long while to accomplish, noting that it would take at least 15 years or so to build enough cars to replace all the other vehicles that are currently on the road.

He added that they are still at least two decades away from swapping all cars with autonomous ones.

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