Waymo raises $2.5B for autonomous vehicle development

The Robot Report
Waymo May 2020

Waymo’s lineup of autonomous vehicles. | Credit: Waymo

Waymo raised another $2.5 billion in funding to continue the development of its autonomous vehicles. This is the second funding round for Waymo, which is a subsidiary of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. In 2020, Waymo raised $3 billion.

Waymo said in a blog that it will use the latest funding to continue advancing the Waymo Driver and continuing to grow its team. This latest round includes funding from Alphabet, Andreessen Horowitz, AutoNation, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Magna International, Mubadala Investment Company, Perry Creek Capital, Silver Lake, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Temasek, and Tiger Global.

Waymo, of course, was the first company to operate a fully autonomous, public ride-hailing service. Waymo One currently operates in the Metro Phoenix area, but Waymo appears to be gearing up for a similar service in San Francisco. Things haven’t gotten perfect for Waymo One, as highlighted by this recent video showcasing how one of its autonomous vehicles was confused by traffic cones, but Level 4 robotaxis arrived in the United States thanks to Waymo.

People in the Metro Phoenix area can now see Waymo One as an option in Google Maps. Until now, the service was only available via the Waymo app.

Waymo is also developing autonomous trucks to deliver goods for its freight partners in a service called Waymo Via. It recently partnered with J.B. Hunt, a U.S.-based transportation and logistics company, to move freight cross-country with its fleet of Class 8 trucks. Waymo Via is already delivering goods locally for clients including UPS and AutoNation.

“Experience has taught us so much, and we agree with those experts who say there’s no greater challenge in artificial intelligence than building and deploying fully autonomous technology at scale,” Waymo co-CEOS Tekedra Mawakana and Dmitri Dolgov said in its blog. “But we love a challenge and – thanks to the unmatched talent of our team – the Waymo Driver is already serving thousands of Waymo One riders as they get to work, shop for groceries, bring their kids to school, or just experience the joy of a ride with no human behind the wheel. Our mission is to make it safe and easy for people and things to get where they’re going, and we’re grateful to our investors for believing in this mission, in our technology, and in us.”

Waymo’s latest funding round follows the departure of CEO John Krafcik in April and criticism that the company is moving slower than expected toward commercialization of its technology.

One of Waymo’s main competitor’s, Cruise, yesterday announced a $5 billion line of credit from GM’s financial arm to pay for hundreds of purpose-built electric and autonomous Origin vehicles as they start to roll off the assembly line. The access to the credit will push Cruise’s “total war chest” to more than $10 billion as it prepares for commercialization, CEO Dan Ammann wrote in a blog.

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Source: therobotreport

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