Self-driving car startup Aurora speeds forward with $90M, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman joins board

Photo via Aurora

Aurora, a newcomer in the race to develop self-driving vehicles, put a little fuel in the tank today as the company raised $90 million in series A financing from Greylock Partners and Index Ventures. As a result of the investment, Greylock’s Reid Hoffman — the co-founder of LinkedIn and Microsoft board member — has joined the board, as did Index’s Mike Volpi.

This is not Hoffman’s first investment in the transportation arena. He also serves on the board of Seattle startup Convoy, which is developing technologies to streamline the trucking industry. Convoy raised $62 million last summer.

Hoffman said that Aurora’s team will bring autonomous vehicles to the mass market.

We reached out to the company for comment, and a spokeswoman referred us to a company blog post in which co-founder and CEO Chris Urmson writes that Aurora is “solving one of the greatest engineering challenges of our generation.”

“Autonomous vehicles will over the coming decades reshape transportation and have a far reaching impact on our cities and our way of living in way we haven’t seen since Ford’s Model T ‘democratized’ driving last century,” said Volpi in the post. “Aurora is best positioned to lead this transformation, because of the caliber of the team, its unique technology and its deep partnerships with existing car manufacturers.”

The company is working with automakers such as Volkswagen, Hyundai, and BYTON on efforts to integrate self-driving technology into vehicles.

Hoffman added in a blog post of his own:

“Though we are still in the early days, the AV industry has seen an emergence of strong use cases of how autonomous technology can help society, including autonomous delivery of goods and connected devices to help humans drive better. Even if every factory in the U.S. started producing only autonomous vehicles in 2018, it would still take at least 15 years or so to build enough cars to replace all the cars that are currently on the road. We are still at least two decades away from replacing all cars with autonomous vehicles. Because of this, the industry will become a blended, hybrid environment where autonomous technology is built and deployed in collaboration with car manufacturers. The hybrid environment will be the pave the road for making self driving cars a reality.”

Aurora’s operations are split between Pittsburgh and Silicon Valley.  CTO Drew Bagnell operated a research lab at Carnegie Mellon University focused on robotics and machine learning, while executive Sterling Anderson is a former Tesla exec.