Waymo LLC today announced that it has raised $2.5 billion. The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said that it plans to use the funding to continue developing and commercializing its Waymo Driver autonomous vehicle technology. Waymo also plans to keep growing its staff.
“With tens of millions of miles driven on public roads across 25 U.S. cities, and tens of billions of miles driven in simulation, our experience has shown us, and our investors, the massive opportunity ahead,” said Waymo in a blog post announcing the funding. “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 expands services
Waymo claimed that it was “the first company to operate a fully autonomous, public ride-hailing service” with the “most advanced technology stack for urban driving.” Waymo has one of the highest mileages of autonomous vehicle developers, and it has the fewest interventions by safety drivers. It also offers the Laser Bear Honeycomb lidar sensor.
The company has been testing Waymo One in the San Francisco Bay area since it was began as a Google unit in 2009, including all-electric Jaguar I-PACE vehicles. In 2015, Google researchers launched the first self-driving car without a steering wheel, gas pedal, or brake pedal.
Waymo has offered fully driverless services around Phoenix, Ariz., since October 2020. In addition, Waymo said it has partnered with a variety of organizations to improve traffic safety and promote mobility access for underserved communities.
Through its Waymo Via delivery business unit, the company is working with providers such as J.B. Hunt to move freight cross-country with autonomous trucks. Waymo Via is also working with clients including UPS and AutoNation.
Race for self-driving funding
Waymo reportedly raised more than $2.3 billion in March of last year, with a private equity round adding $750 million in May 2020.
Alphabet (the parent company of Waymo and Google), Andreessen Horowitz, AutoNation, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Magna International, Mubadala Investment Company, Perry Creek Capital, and Silver Lake participated in Waymo's latest round. In addition, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates Inc., Temasek, and Tiger Global invested in the company.
Other companies that have obtained billions in investment include Uber, Didi Chuxing, Tesla, and Cruise. The global market for autonomous vehicles will experience a 64.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) between 2020 and 2027, said Precedence Research. Similarly, Grand View Research predicted a 63.1% CAGR, from about 6,700 units in 2020.
“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,” said Tekedra Mawakana and Dmitri Dolgov, co-CEOs of Waymo. “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.”
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