Automated vehicle company Nuro landed a fresh $600 million Series D fundraising round and brought in some notable investors as it reached a valuation of $8.6 billion.
Nuro, the company behind a growing fleet of Smart-car-sized automated delivery vehicles, attracted a few notable investors in both its latest and previous round. In the prior round, Chipotle joined the investor table and, this time, grocery giant Kroger jumped in.
Kroger has been pushing all sorts of interesting off-premises tests lately, including a major investment in ghost-kitchen operator ClusterTruck and a partnership with shared-kitchen operator Kitchen United. Kroger and Nuro partnered on a test in 2018, and the new investment signals further expansion of automated grocery delivery.
“Kroger launched its partnership with Nuro in 2018 to explore grocery delivery through autonomous vehicles,” said Yael Cosset, SVP and chief information officer for Kroger. “Since then, Kroger and Nuro completed thousands of deliveries to our customers.”
Nuro attracted a lot of typical technology investors as well. The SoftBank Vision Fund returned for a third time. Tiger Global Management led the round, its first investment in the company.
Griffin Schroeder, a partner at the investment firm known for all things tech and disruptive, said Nuro is the path forward for local delivery.
“The arrival of ubiquitous on-demand ecommerce is changing the way we access goods. Demand for local deliveries is exploding. Nuro is the bridge to an era of sustainable, low cost, autonomous local delivery,” he added.
Google was another notable first-time investor, and its presence at the capital table comes with a major partnership between the search and cloud giant and Nuro. The company signed a five-year strategic partnership with Google Cloud to manage and enhance the self-driving processing load. The partnership will lean on machine learning to improve those models, but also has both companies looking for more opportunities to “strengthen and transform local commerce.”
The cash infusion will help expand the commercial efforts and grow the automated footprint for the Mountain View, California-based business, said President and co-founder Dave Ferguson.
“We’re thrilled to have the backing of these prominent investors and world-class companies, and honored that they support our vision of improving communities and revitalizing local commerce,” said Ferguson. “We believe this investment will allow us to accelerate our commercialization strategy and better everyday life with Nuro’s technology.”
The funding will help continue many early-stage tests and partnerships like a multi-year partnership with FedEx and pilots like the company did with Domino’s in the Houston area. Funds will also help expand the Nuro team and further enhance the technology.