3 Nov 21

Google invests in driverless delivery startup Nuro

U.S.-based startup Nuro, which develops autonomous vehicles (AVs) for delivery services, has raised $600 million in a fundraising round led by Tiger Global Management and joined by Google – both new investors in the company. The funding has pushed Nuro’s valuation to $8.6 billion, 72% higher than a year ago. 

The extra money will help boost the commercialisation of Nuro’s third-generation AV. A facility in Southern Nevada is expected to be completed in December and start production in 2022. 

Nuro was launched in 2016 by two former Google engineers, and has since found a steady stream of investors, which has propelled it to the front of the pack of AV startups. Unlike most of its competitors, Nuro has focused its efforts on designing a low-speed EV that transports goods instead of people.

The company aims to capitalise on the growing e-commerce trend, which has been accelerated by the pandemic. In fact, Nuro was the first AV company to get a permit from California, allowing it to charge for its delivery services. Nuro is currently piloting its technology with a number of high-profile U.S. retailers (Walmart, CVS, Kroger) and with FedEx.

Simultaneous with the funding news, Nuro also announced a five-year partnership with Google Cloud. Cloud services are an indispensable yet typically very costly requirement for operators of autonomous vehicles, as they generate huge amounts of data.  

It’s unclear how Google’s investment in and partnership with Nuro fits in with its relationship with Waymo, Google’s former self-driving project that now is an independent company under Google’s parent company Alphabet.

Image: Nuro

Authored by: Frank Jacobs