Softbank’s next bet: $940M into autonomous delivery startup Nuro

By | February 11, 2019

Nuro, the autonomous delivery startup, has raised $940 million in financing from the Softbank Vision Fund, a whopping amount that will be used to expand its delivery service, add new partners, hire employees and scale up its fleet of self-driving bots.

Nuro has raised more than $1 billion from partners including SoftBank, Greylock Partners and Gaorong Capital.

“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 co-founder 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 focus has been developing a self-driving stack and combining it with a custom unmanned vehicle designed for last mile for the delivery of local goods and services. The vehicle, which was two compartments that can fit up to six grocery bags each.

Nuro’s world-class team has successfully scaled their self-driving technology out of the lab and into the streets,” Michael Ronen, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers said in a statement. “In just two years Dave, Jiajun and team have developed Nuro from a concept into a real business using robotics to connect retailers to customers.”

The company partnered in 2018 with Kroger to pilot a delivery service in Arizona. The pilot, which initially used Toyota Prius vehicles, transitioned in December to the delivery bot. The autonomous vehicle called R1, is operating as a driverless service without a safety driver on board in Phoenix suburb Scottsdale.

The autonomous delivery service might get all the attention. But Nuro’s decision to license its self-driving vehicle technology to Ike, an autonomous trucking startup, is just as notable.

Ike now has a copy of Nuro’s stack, which is worth billions, based on this latest round. Nuro also has a minority stake in Ike.

Ike, which announced its own $52 million funding round last week, doesn’t have an ongoing technical connection with the Nuro. Ike co-founder and CEO Alden Woodrow has explained to TechCrunch before that this copy was a “hard fork.”

This licensing deal shows that Nuro’s leadership team has an appetite for diversifying the business.

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