The Demand for the Self-Driving Car Is Still High

Written by Jennifer Clark
Posted January 15, 2019 at 7:00PM

We're all patiently waiting for the green light on self-driving vehicles. Obviously, the technology involved is still being perfected. It's crucial to get self-driving vehicles just right for obvious reasons like public safety.

It may seem like the idea of self-driving vehicles and how great they'll be for us in the future has been something we've been hearing about for years. And we should know that all good things come with a little patience. Companies have been going hard when it comes to research and development (R & D) for this booming industry, and it's starting to pay off.

Forecasts suggest that there will be as many as 21 million driverless cars in the U.S. and 27 million in Europe by 2030. Ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft are confident in these forecasts. And that's why both companies have been focusing on driverless cars to add to their ride-sharing fleets.

Companies like Lyft and Uber and top companies in the automobile industry, like GM, BMW, Audi, Mercedes Benz, aren't investing in the self-driving industry on a whim. They all see the potential that lies ahead in the industry and realize that if they act thoughtfully and with certainty, they could be a big leader in the industry.

Heck, even Google, Apple, and Tesla are fighting hard to dominate the autonomous vehicles (AV) industry.

While some of the top companies are fighting for a leading position in this industry, there are some under-the-radar companies that we should keep an eye on. I'm talking about a self-driving startup called Aurora Innovation.

What Is Aurora?

Aurora Innovation is just shy of two years old. And it's already creating an uproar in the autonomous-driving industry. The company has formed a highly regarded executive team from Tesla, Uber, and Google — all those companies I mentioned earlier that have also been making a name for themselves in this industry.

After a new fundraising round, the startup could be valued at over $2 billion. Aurora is led by CEO Chris Urmson. Urmson was the chief technology officer (CTO) for Alphabet's self-driving segment, Waymo. It also has Sterling Anderson and Drew Bagnell. Anderson was the head of Tesla's Autopilot program. And Bagnell was one of the founding members of Uber's autonomous efforts.

With these three individuals on Aurora's side, there's no reason why Aurora can't continue to succeed. Not to mention, the connections that these three founders have from their previous experiences will enable them to build a team with some of the top talent from places like SpaceX. As of right now, Aurora has 200 employees.

What Does Aurora Do?

Aurora isn't interested in building the driverless cars or manufacturing the sensors that'll be crucial to the vehicle's self-driving technology. Instead, Aurora designs the software that carmakers and other developers can build on.

In a recent article, Chris Urmson said:

We'd like to be the system. So we're going to work on the software and we're going to build a reference architecture that we'll share with automotive partners. That'll include — these are the sensors you should have, these are roughly where you should have them on the vehicle, and this is the computation you should have.

Aurora is partnering with companies like Volkswagen and Hyundai. In the company's first major round of fundraising, it raised $90 million. Sequoia Capital is investing in the startup. It's expected to lead a financing round of at least $500 million in the company. The investment hasn't closed, yet. But when it does, it'll be Sequoia's biggest investment commitment.

Keep an eye out for Aurora and how it'll be shaping self-driving car technology and the industry as a whole.

Until next time,

Jennifer Clark
Pro Trader Today

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