Chris Urmson, who was the Chief Technology Officer at Waymo, before it became Waymo and was still part of the X division of Alphabet, has now raised around $3.1 million for his new startup company, Aurora. This is a new self-driving car company that Urmson is starting up, along with a slew of other engineers from Uber and Tesla's respective autonomous departments. Urmson had lured a few key people away from Tesla's autopilot division to work with him at Aurora, and also picked up a few from Uber, who are based in Pittsburgh.
The company is still brand new, seeing as Urmson only left Alphabet late last year, and it was announced that he was beginning this project in December. According to an SEC filing, they have raised around $3.1 million for the startup, although for a company that is in the self-driving car space, that really isn't a whole lot of money. Aurora is aiming to be a one-stop-shop for auto makers who want to make their vehicles autonomous. They are planning to develop the software, hardware and data which they will then sell to auto makers like Fiat Chrysler, General Motors, Ford, Tesla and others, to equip their vehicles. That's similar to what Waymo is now doing at Alphabet. Instead of opting to build their own vehicles, they are building the hardware and software to make existing vehicles autonomous. Which is arguably easier, and will scale much better.
This is a good start for Aurora, but they will definitely need more cash soon, so they are likely going to be looking for more investors soon. Currently, the list of investors is not known, however Ian Smith, who is the managing director of Allen & Company is listed as a member of the board for Aurora. Which is typically a sign that they are invested in the company, although that is not confirmed, so take that with a heavy grain of salt. The biggest challenge that Aurora is going to have is, standing out in the very crowded autonomous space. Seeing as most tech companies are working on the software and hardware as well, and car companies are building their own existing vehicles to be autonomous.