Autonomous technology startup Nuro said on Monday it raised $940 million from SoftBank Group Corp, which valued the Silicon Valley-based company at $2.7 billion.
Nuro was co-founded in 2016 by two former engineers of Google’s self-driving car project, Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu.
The funding by SoftBank came through its $100-billion Vision Fund.
Nuro, which largely operates in the San Francisco Bay Area, launched a self-driving delivery vehicle last year. Nuro’s focus is local, low-cost deliveries using its custom-designed self-driving vehicles that are about half the size of a regular car. The company began testing them last year in a pilot program, delivering groceries, meals and other products. The company has also partnered with U.S. supermarket chain Kroger co to extend its services.
The Mountain View, California-based company, said the SoftBank funds will allow it to expand its delivery service into new areas, add partners, grow its fleet of unmanned vehicles, accelerate development of its technology and “significantly” grow its team.
“We’ve spent the last two and a half years building an amazing team, launching our first unmanned service, working with incredible partners and creating technology to fundamentally improve our daily lives,” Nuro cofounder Dave Ferguson said in a statement. “This partnership gives us the opportunity to take the next step in realizing our vision for local commerce and the broad application of our technology.”
Nuro's small, purpose-built robotic delivery vehicles use the same advanced sensing equipment – laser lidar for 3D, high-definition images, advanced cameras and radar – as autonomous vehicles from Waymo and GM’s Cruise. But since they don’t operate at high speed or on highways, the Nuro model doesn’t need the same level of long-distance vision, allowing it to use somewhat lower-cost hardware.