SoftBank’s next bet: $940M into autonomous delivery startup Nuro
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 delivery of local goods and services. The vehicle has 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 the Phoenix suburb of 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 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.