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Autonomous VehiclesNewsTrucking

Nuro just likes Ike

Autonomous delivery company Nuro has acquired Ike, a trucking technology startup founded by veterans of Apple, Google and Uber ATG

Autonomous local delivery powerhouse Nuro has acquired Ike, a self-driving long-haul trucking startup founded by veterans of Apple, Google and Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group (ATG).

Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deal came less than three weeks after the autonomous delivery company Aurora acquired Uber ATG, one of several recent mergers suggesting the industry is leaning toward short-haul freight applications.

The acquisition also builds on the two companies’ long-standing partnership and collaboration history.

Instead of constructing its own autonomous vehicle software stack, Ike — named after President Dwight Eisenhower, architect of the U.S. highway system — came out of the gate in 2018 licensing software from Nuro, which took a minority stake in the trucking startup.

Today Nuro claims a $5 billion valuation and more than 600 employees, according to TechCrunch.

“Joining forces with Nuro will allow us to move faster on an ambitious mission to make people’s lives better with automated vehicles. We have already begun to work on integration of teams and technology, and we can’t wait for what’s to come in 2021,” Ike CEO Alden Woodrow wrote in a Wednesday blog post on Medium announcing the acquisition.

Woodrow and his two co-founders, along with at least 55 employees will move over to Nuro, according to TechCrunch.

Nuro did not immediately respond to FreightWaves’ request for comment, and it is unclear if the company will continue to work on the long-haul applications Ike targeted. But Woodrow said in his post that “Nuro has always had ambitious goals, including a mission that goes far beyond local delivery.”

In an email to FreightWaves, Woodrow elaborated on that statement. “We’ll be integrating teams and helping deliver on Nuro’s primary focus in the near term,” he said. “As for trucking, we continue to see huge opportunities to apply our combined expertise and technology to help with the long haul. Stay tuned for more about our plans here in the future.”

Despite its powerhouse engineering team, Ike has always taken a relatively low-key approach to autonomous trucking, a contrast to the winner take all attitudes expressed by some of its competitors. 

During a talk delivered during FreightWaves’ FreightTech summit in November, Woodrow focused on the startup’s humble approach to fundraising and product development.

“We do not have a product today,” Woodrow said, adding that Ike is “still in development of our product” and “has more work to do.” 

Ike, which had raised a total of $52 million, did announce a partnership in September with three major logistics customers to deploy its Level 4 software for highway driving. The status of those partnerships is unclear. 

Among other self-driving deals that closed this year is Amazon’s acquisition of Zoox in a $1 billion-plus purchase expected to help the e-giant automate its last-mile e-commerce-related freight operations.

Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to lbaker@freightwaves.com.