(Reuters) – Autonomous delivery vehicle maker Nuro raised $600 million in its latest funding round, the Silicon Valley-based startup said on Tuesday, bringing on board Alphabet Inc’s Google as an investor.
The funding round, led by Tiger Global Management, lifted Nuro’s valuation to $8.6 billion from $5 billion previously, according to a person close to the deal.
Toyota Motor Corp’s Woven Capital, SoftBank Group Corp’s Vision Fund 1, Kroger Co. were among other investors.
Self-driving startups are racing to build war chests to develop and commercialize technology, an expensive and time-consuming process. Alphabet’s self-driving unit Waymo in June raised $2.5 billion.
Nuro, whose R2 unit has no pedals or steering wheel and only room for packages, said it has signed a five-year strategic partnership with Google Cloud to support self-driving simulation and data management.
Google Cloud said it was also looking to help Nuro optimise how it makes deliveries for retailers and other businesses, with the aim of transforming local commerce together.
Nuro’s founders, Dave Ferguson and Jiajun Zhu, both worked on Google’s self-driving car project, later spun out as Waymo, before launched Nuro.
Nuro’s R2 has been tested in several cities, including Houston in Texas, Phoenix in Arizona, and Mountain View in California.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave Nuro approval in February last year to deploy up to 5,000 R2 vehicles on public roads over two years. The company has not disclosed the number of R2s on the road.
(Reporting By Jane Lanhee Lee; editing by Jane Wardell)