Autonomous truck company Aurora raises $820M in stock sale

Autonomous truck company Aurora raises $820M in stock sale

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Aurora Innovation Inc., a company developing an autonomous driving system for trucks and cars, has sold $820 million worth of stock to support its commercialization efforts.

The sale took place on Thursday. At the time, TechCrunch reported the company was expecting to close the deal today. The capital raise comes about two years after Aurora went public on the Nasdaq through a merger with a SPAC, or special purpose acquisition company. 

Pittsburgh-based Aurora is developing an autonomous freight service called Aurora Horizon. The plan is to use self-driving trucks built by auto giant PACCAR Inc. to haul merchandise over long distances. According to the companies, the trucks will use an Aurora-developed autonomous driving system to navigate the roads.

Aurora’s latest $820 million capital raise consisted of two separate stock sales. The company sold 73.33 million shares worth $220 million through a public offering. Additionally, it raised $600 million through a private placement that included both existing and new investors.

According to a regulatory filing, $125 million worth of stock was bought by T. Rowe Price Investment Management Inc., an existing Aurora investor that first backed the startup before it went public. Entitles affiliated with venture capitalist Mike Volpi and Uber Technologies Inc. bought $5 million and $1 million worth of shares, respectively. Volpi sits on Aurora’s board.

The company plans to bring its Aurora Horizon autonomous freight service online in late 2024. Before this week’s stock sale, however, it only had enough capital to operate until mid-2024. Aurora told TechCrunch that the $820 million raise extends its financial runway “well into 2025”.

In the filing for the stock sale, the company added that it may use some of the capital to make acquisitions. Aurora has made multiple acquisitions since launching in 2017. One of the most recent was its 2021 purchase of Ours Technology Inc., a startup that developed semiconductor-based lidar sensors.

Aurora’s autonomous driving system, the Aurora Drive, is powered by a semiconductor-based lidar sensor called FirstLight. The company says that FirstLight allows its trucks to detect objects from a distance of up to 1,300 feet. Aurora Drive also uses data from cameras, custom radar devices and a mapping service that provides preorganized information about road conditions.

The system turns road data into driving decisions using what Aurora describes as a proprietary computer. According to the company, its computer can manage up to 5,400 trillion computing operations per second. It runs in a ruggedized chassis designed to withstand challenging weather and can automatically mitigate certain types of malfunctions.

In the long term, Aurora plans to integrate its autonomous driving technology into not only trucks but also passenger vehicles. Last year, the company started testing a fleet of self-driving Toyota Sienna minivans on public roads. Aurora stated in 2021 that it was hoping to launch an autonomous ride-hailing service by the end of 2024. 

Image: Aurora

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