Amazon invests in a self-driving car startup

Aurora could help with autonomous deliveries.

Amazon is clearly interested in autonomy between its delivery drone project and Scout robots, but it's taking that commitment one step further. The tech giant has participated in a $530 million investment round for Aurora Innovation, a self-driving car startup created by luminaries like ex-Googler Chris Urmson, former Tesla Autopilot leader Sterling Anderson and Uber autonomy co-founder Drew Bagnell. While Amazon hasn't said what it hopes to gain from the investment, Aurora's technology may provide some clues.

Like many similar startups, Aurora is focused on developing a driverless system rather than producing full-fledged cars. You could integrate its technology into various vehicles, and companies like Hyundai and VW have already pledged to use Aurora software in their cars by 2021. Amazon could use this for self-driving cargo and courier vehicles, reducing its need for human drivers (like it or not) and speeding up delivery times by keeping products moving around the clock.

With that in mind, any development is likely to be a ways off. An investment isn't the same as a partnership -- it signals intent more than action. Just don't be surprised if you one day see Amazon-branded robotic vehicles roaming the streets.