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Waymo, the self-driving car developer of Alphabet, has raised $2.25 billion in funding from external investors, led by tech investment firms including Silver Lake, Alphabet itself, Andreesen Horowitz, and AutoNation.
Google began working on a self-driving car more than a decade ago, in 2009, and later the parent company spun the project off into Waymo, staking a serious claim in the nascent autonomous driving area. Since its inception, Waymo has logged in 20 million miles on public roads with its ride-sharing service in Arizona and in California. Last year alone, the company logged 1.45 million miles just in California.
"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’s chief executive, John Krafcik. “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.”
The self-driving car segment of the auto industry seems full of promise, but it has been slow in taking off not least because of stringent regulations. Yet the segment is growing. Last year, none other than Ford and Volkswagen inked a joint venture deal on self-driving cars to challenge Waymo and others working in that area. The JV would invest $7 billion in an autonomous vehicle platform dubbed Argo AI.
Autonomous cars have been slow in coming because of the technological challenges to develop artificial intelligence so complex that it can entirely take the wheel out of a human’s hands. But they are coming, it seems, and Waymo is leading the charge.
“Over the course of the next three years, where you’re going to see these cars will continue to expand in Phoenix,” the company’s CEO said. “You’ll see additional growth in California and I would just say, stay tuned for other future markets for us.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.