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Autonomous vehicle (AV) company Nuro has raised $600 million in a series D round of funding from high-profile investors, including Tiger Global Management and Google. This brings its valuation to $8.6 billion, according to sources, up significantly from its $5 billion valuation less than a year ago.

Founded in 2016, Nuro is setting out to capitalize on shifting consumer expectations and trends that have been accelerated by the global pandemic, namely how they experience ecommerce. Customers in supported U.S. locales place their online orders directly with Nuro’s partner companies, and Nuro’s so-called “zero-occupant” autonomous delivery vehicles will transport anything from groceries to pharmacy prescriptions.

Alongside Google’s sibling company Waymo, Nuro has emerged as one of the leading players in the commercial driverless car space — last year, it became the first such company to receive a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) that enabled it to charge money for its driverless delivery service.

“The arrival of ubiquitous on-demand ecommerce is changing the way we access goods,” Tiger Global partner Griffin Schroeder said in a press release. “Nuro is the bridge to an era of sustainable, low cost, autonomous local delivery.”

Above: Nuro in action

The Google factor

In addition to the funding, Nuro also revealed a five year “strategic partnership” with Google Cloud, which it said will support the “massive scale and capacity required to run self-driving simulation workloads,” as well as give Nuro access to machine learning smarts and storage for the vast amount of data generated by its vehicles.

Interestingly, the duo also revealed that they would explore other commercial opportunities together to “strengthen and transform local commerce,” though they provided no further details on what exactly this might entail.

Nuro had previously raised around $1.5 billion, and with another $600 million in the bank, the company is now well-financed to further develop and deploy its autonomous delivery service with some of the biggest brands across the U.S. Indeed, Nuro has amassed a fairly impressive roster of customers including Kroger, Domino’s, Walmart, and CVS.

Aside from lead backer Tiger Global Management and Google, Nuro’s series D round ushered in a slew of notable investors, including Kroger and SoftBank Vision Fund 1.

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