Waymo announced that it raised $2.5 billion from its parent company, Alphabet, and a dozen outside investors. It disclosed that the money is going to be used in its efforts to deploy autonomous vehicles for use on public roads.
The funding round brings the total amount of capital invested into Waymo to more than $5 billion.
That number does not include what has been spent by Alphabet to finance operations within the unit, which started as an internal Google project more than ten years ago.
What is Waymo going to do with all that money?
The autonomous vehicle development initiative was started by Google in 2009, with a small team of engineers sourced from its X research lab. The initiative initially operated under the codename Project Chauffeur and was eventually spun off after seven years into a standalone unit that would be called Waymo.
With this new money, Waymo can expand not just its autonomous vehicle engineering operations but the efforts to commercialize the technology, which involves partnering with automakers.
The unit needs large amounts of capital like this because it is pursuing many technically ambitious projects in several fields.
What Waymo is building
The business is working on bleeding-edge artificial intelligence software that will navigate the vehicles on public roads. It also operates a private test track facility that trains vehicles to avoid complex obstacles, while creating and training the algorithms that will drive the vehicles.
The unit also has a sophisticated vehicle simulation environment in the cloud, which they have used to train the navigation system. So far, it has covered tens of billions of virtual miles in simulations.
The unit also develops hardware and other capital-intensive things it needs. Now, all that’s left is to see a mass rollout of the technology when it’s proven to be ready.