TechCrunch reports that SoftBank (OTC US: SFBTF), a Japanese multinational holding group, has led a $940 million investment in autonomous delivery startup Nuro. Gaorong Capital, Greylock Partners and Softbank have previously raised $92 million for Nuro. According to Reuters, this latest round of financing puts the company’s valuation at $2.7 billion.
Nuro was founded by former Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) engineers Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu in 2016. Its focus is designing self-driving vehicles for last-mile delivery of local goods and services such as groceries. Nuro is currently operating an unmanned delivery service using its R1 vehicle in partnership with Kroger Co. (NYSE: KR) in Scottsdale, Arizona according to The Wall Street Journal.
According to TechCrunch, Nuro will use the investment to expand its delivery service, add new partners, hire employees and scale up its fleet of self-driving vehicles. The R1 is custom-designed with two compartments that can carry six grocery bags each.
“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’s 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.”
The funding round comes from SoftBank’s Vision Fund, a $100 billion fund that invests in fast-growing technology companies like Nuro. The Vision Fund has also invested in other autonomous vehicle ventures including a $2.25 billion investment in GM’s (NYSE: GM) autonomous vehicle venture, Cruise Automation LLC, according to Reuters.
TechCrunch reports that Nuro has also licensed its self-driving vehicle technology to Ike, an autonomous trucking startup. Ike recently announced its own $52 million funding round.