Autonomous start-up Aurora plans to go public via a SPAC cope with an preliminary worth of $ 11 billion

Aurora, a start-up that develops hardware and software to enable autonomous driving of vehicles, is going public through a SPAC merger.

The deal with the special purpose vehicle Reinvent Technology Partners is slated to close this year, providing the merged company with $ 2.5 billion in cash.

“This is a natural next step for us,” said Aurora Co-Founder and CEO Chris Urmson. “This will free up the capital we need to bring the Aurora driver to a large scale as a service.” Upon closing, Aurora will trade on the Nasdaq under the ticker symbol AUR with a valuation of $ 11 billion.

With partners such as Toyota, Uber and truck manufacturers Volvo and Paccar, Aurora targets a wide range of vehicles, delivery services and mobility companies with its technology. The aim is to enable the vehicles to drive autonomously at level 4, which means that no human interaction is required when the vehicles are on the road.

Aurora expects its technology to be integrated into Volvo and Paccar Class 8 trucks by the end of 2023. Because these trucks drive autonomously on roads and highways, they will generate revenue per mile for Aurora.

Aurora CEO Chris Urmson


The business model is attractive, but turning this promise into reality and actually solving the complexity of level 4 autonomous driving is an enormous challenge. The commercialization of autonomous vehicles was far more difficult than many predicted a few years ago.

Some companies like Uber Technologies have given up developing the systems in-house. Uber sold its autonomous vehicle business to Aurora, while other companies like Zoox sold to Amazon. Alphabet’s Waymo remains the top performer, operating a public autonomous vehicle fleet in Arizona.

Urmson has been working on the technology for nearly 15 years, including a long stint as head of Google’s self-driving car project.

“We understand how difficult this problem is to solve,” he said. “We have spent the last four years building the foundation for this technology. Now is the time to move it and deploy it.”

Will investors adopt Aurora once it becomes a public company? SPAC deals for some electric vehicle companies like Nikola, Lordstown Motors and Canoo have led to extremely volatile stocks and the SEC’s investigation into whether the companies misled investors.

Mark Pincus, co-founder and director of Reinvent Technology Partners, said it invested in Aurora because it was a “clear leader” in the industry.

“It’s a piece of cake for us,” he said. “It represents everything we’re looking for in the autonomous vehicle market.”

Aurora estimates the global trucking, last-mile delivery, and ride-hailing market to be valued at $ 9.4 trillion. In short, they represent a huge opportunity, which is why automakers like GM, Tesla and Volkswagen are investing billions in developing autonomous vehicles. Alphabet’s Waymo was formerly known as the Google Self-Driving Car Project when Urmson led it from 2013-2016.

At the time, Urmson said his goal was to make autonomous vehicles a reality so that his son doesn’t have to get a driver’s license. Urmson’s son will turn 18 later that year. He now has his learner’s license, while his father takes another step closer to his goal of getting self-driving vehicles on the road.

– CNBC’s Michael Wayland contributed to this article.

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