Driverless delivery startup Nuro just got a huge Vision-fueled financial boost from ol’ money-bags-SoftBank.
Yesterday, the company announced it raised $940m from the Japanese tech company’s Vision Fund to help speed up mass production of the company’s robot “R1” delivery vehicles.
What does SoftBank’s Vision Fund see?
The nearly billion-dollar investment is a massive vote of confidence for little-known Nuro. Formed in 2016 by a pair of ex-Google engineers, Nuro is now one of only a handful of companies operating fully driverless vehicles on public roads today.
Its R1 vehicle (currently operating in Scottsdale, AZ) is almost half as wide as a compact sedan, shorter than most cars, and has no place for humans behind the wheel (or riding shotgun).
Despite having built only 6 of these vehicles to date, TechCrunch reports that Nuro partnered in 2018 with Kroger to pilot a delivery service and has already licensed its self-driving technology to the autonomous trucking startup, Ike.
SoftBank is competing against itself
The investment in Nuro is the latest honking investment in autonomous vehicles by SoftBank. Its Vision Fund recently said it plans to pump $2.25B into GM’s self-driving Cruise division as well.
The tech giant acquired 20% of Uber in 2017 and is heavily invested in its global competitors like China’s Didi Chuxing, Grab, and Ola — all of which have driverless vehicle programs.
Because why should you focus on just one autonomous-curious ride-hailing startup when you can have all of them?