Autonomous delivery startup Nuro hits $5 billion valuation on fresh funding of $500 million

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Nuro R2 delivery bot

Nuro, the autonomous delivery startup founded by two former Google engineers, has raised $500 million, suggesting that investors still have an appetite for long-term pursuits such as robotics and automated vehicle technology. Nuro now has a post-money valuation of $5 billion.

The Series C round was led by funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., with participation from new investors including Fidelity Management & Research Company and Baillie Gifford. The round also includes existing investors such as SoftBank Vision Fund 1 and Greylock.

Nuro was founded in June 2016 by former Google engineers Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu. While the startup was initially bootstrapped by Ferguson and Zhu, it has never struggled to attract investors. Nuro’s Series A funding round of $92 million, which officially closed in June 2017, included Greylock, Banyan and gave NetEase founder Ding Lei (aka William Ding) a seat on Nuro’s board. But it was the monster $940 million investment made by the SoftBank Vision Fund in February 2019 that catapulted Nuro ahead of numerous other startups attempting to commercialize autonomous vehicle technology. Nuro had a $2.7 billion valuation following the SoftBank investment, meaning its value doubled in about 18 months. That money has helped it grow to more than 650 employees.

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FedEx unveils autonomous delivery robot

Trials of the robot, which has a top speed of 10 mph, will begin later this year

Startups do it. Amazon does it. And now even Fedex is doing it — experimenting with robots for short-range deliveries. Today, the company officially announced its new FedEx SameDay Bot, which it says could help make “last mile” deliveries more efficient.

The SameDay Bot is battery-powered, has a top speed of 10 mph, and is autonomous, meaning it can steer itself around pedestrians and traffic using a combination of LIDAR sensors like those found in self-driving cars and regular cameras.

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Amazon has made its own autonomous six-wheeled delivery robot

Amazon is entering the robot delivery game with an electric hamper on wheels it’s calling the Amazon Scout. The e-commerce giant is the latest company to try its hand at this sort of automated, last-mile delivery solution, following a crop of startups, as well as experiments by larger firms like Domino’s Pizza and PepsiCo.

Details about the Scout are thin on the ground, but the design looks similar to existing robots. In fact, the Scout looks almost identical to devices from Starship Technologies, an Estonian startup that was an early entrant to the field. (In a statement to The Verge after this story was published, a spokesperson for Starship Technologies said “[w]e’re huge believers in autonomous delivery robots. As the company that created this category, it’s great to see others realizing the potential.”)

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Startup inks ‘world’s largest deal’ for driverless grocery deliveries

 

Whether or not your grocery delivery arrives in a van with a driver behind the wheel may not matter much to you, but an increasing number of companies are nevertheless investing heavily in autonomous delivery vehicles in the belief that they’ll improve efficiency and create significant cost benefits in the long term. Yes, you’ll have to wait and see if those savings will be passed on to you, the customer.

Udelv, a San Francisco-based startup that has already used its autonomous vans to make more than 700 driverless deliveries in the San Francisco Bay area, recently inked what it claims is the world’s largest deal for a grocery delivery service using self-driving vehicles.

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Cities will automate first. We should prepare now

Olympics Autonomous Driving

Three robotic arms move brushes languidly across canvases as the glass eyes of cameras gaze ahead. The robots are painting a still life—lit with a tarnished black standing lamp—of a stuffed fox, a bird perched on a branch, a skull in the center, and a seashell to the side.

This summer in Paris, it is not only the clutch of international travelers filling the museums, but robotic visitors as well. The Grande Palais is hosting an exhibit called “Artistes and Robots” that features works created via artificial intelligence and robotic hosts. Elsewhere, AI-produced art is growing increasingly indistinguishable from the “real thing.” Since 2016, teams of programmers have competed in an annual RobotArt competition (here are this year’s finalists), and robot-made art will go on sale at the Seattle Art Fair this summer, alongside works that came solely from human hands.

This partnership between human and machine is what lies ahead as automation tools permeate our lives at a quickening pace. As many worry about the potential for robots to steal our jobs (or lead a violent overthrow of society), the reality may be more nuanced: They may end up being something more like creative collaborators, much like these robotic artists on display.

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