Nuro has just received a rocket boost driven by SoftBank. The company announced on Monday that it has raised $ 940 million in financing from the Vision Fund of Japan's technology company, a gigantic sum that will help accelerate Nuro's mission of putting driverless delivery vehicles on the road en masse.
It is also a great vote of confidence for one of the lesser known new companies that work in auto driving technology. Formed in 2016 by a couple of former self-driving engineers from Google, Nuro has distinguished itself by focusing on delivering food instead of people on the move. The start-up recently announced a pilot delivery service in Arizona in association with the grocery giant Kroger.
"We have spent the last two and a half years building an incredible team, launching our first unmanned service, working with incredible partners and creating technology to fundamentally improve our daily lives," said Nuro co-founder Dave Ferguson in a statement. . "This partnership gives us the opportunity to take the next step to realize our vision of local commerce and the broad application of our technology."
Nuro is one of the few companies that operate driverless vehicles on public roads today. The R1 vehicle is about half as wide as a compact sedan, shorter than most cars and has no interior space for passengers or human drivers. Nuro has built six of these vehicles so far and plans to use the infusion of cash to make more. It also plans to increase its fleet of standard car tests equipped with self-driving hardware and software to approximately 50, which will operate on public roads in California, Arizona and Texas with safety drivers at the wheel.
The $ 940 million for Nuro is just the last major investment in autonomous vehicles by SoftBank, which has quickly become one of the dominant forces in the industry. The Vision Fund, a major venture investment effort initiated by the Japanese technology giant in 2016, also said it will inject $ 2.25 billion into GM's cruise division.
The technology conglomerate acquired a 20 percent stake in Uber in 2017 during the aftermath of Travis Kalanick's departure from the company. It is also heavily invested in competing companies that compete in travel, such as Didi Chuxing in China, Grab in Southeast Asia and Ola de India. SoftBank has a multi-million dollar stake in Nvidia, which has become a leading chip maker that feeds many of the autonomous cars that are being tested today.
While there is still a lot of uncertainty about the cars that drive themselves, particularly with regard to safety and real-world applications, the companies that are developing the technology continue to accumulate cash at an accelerated pace. Last week, another company founded by Google's former engineers, Aurora Innovation, announced that it had raised nearly $ 500 million from several investors, including Amazon.