Waymo, the Google self-driving car project which is now a business under its parent company Alphabet, said that on Monday it has raised $2.25 billion in a funding round led by Silver Lake, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Mubadala Investment Company. This is Waymo’s first external investment.
“We’ve always approached our mission as a team sport, collaborating with our OEM and supplier partners, our operations partners, and the communities we serve to build and deploy the world’s most experienced driver,” said Waymo CEO John Krafcik said in a blog the company posted Monday. “Today, we’re expanding that team, adding financial investors and important strategic partners who bring decades of experience investing in and supporting successful technology companies building transformative products. With this injection of capital and business acumen, alongside Alphabet, we’ll deepen our investment in our people, our technology, and our operations, all in support of the deployment of the Waymo Driver around the world.”
The funding round followed a flurry of activities last year that showed that Waymo is ramping up into a commercial enterprise. Much of the activities focused on mapping and testing its autonomous vehicle technology in new locations such as Florida, Mountain View, and the Phoenix area.
Waymo’s main focus is on testing and launching an on-demand ride-hailing service called Waymo One using its autonomous vehicles in the Phoenix area. In October last year, Waymo began pulling safety drivers out of some of the vehicles on its Waymo One service.
In January 2020, Waymo made an announcement that it would begin mapping and testing its autonomous long-haul trucks in Texas and parts of New Mexico.
Waymo has also expanded through acquisitions and partnerships. Last year Waymo acquired a U.K. company called Latent Logic. The company uses a type of machine learning called imitation learning that could buff up Waymo’s simulation efforts. The acquisition of Latent logic marked the launch of Waymo’s first European engineering hub, in Oxford, U.K.
Last year, Waymo also hired 13 engineers from Anki, the robotics startup that shut down in April. The robotics experts included Anki’s co-founder and CEO Boris Sofman, who is leading engineering in the autonomous trucking division.
Waymo also partnered with Renault and Nissan to research on how commercial autonomous vehicles might work for passengers and packages in France and Japan.