Google’s Waymo has now announced new funding to pay for more self-driving car technology and staff. In fact, according to recent reports, it’s received more than $2.5 billion in additional funding for the endeavor.
The funding, Waymo indicates, will pay to hire more staff and for R&D on its self-driving technology. With the ultimate goal of opening up its service for more paid riders.
Waymo has been around, so how does the funding help self-driving technology cars?
Now, Waymo has been in operation under Google parent Alphabet Inc. since 2009. And, in the interim, it has continued improving its technology and offered more rides in more places. The focus of those endeavors has been, of course, getting the service up to par to serve as a paid taxi service for riders.
The most recent of its pushes on that front happened back in late 2020. Specifically, in Phoenix Arizona. But Google isn’t operating in a vacuum either.
Setting aside the pitfalls and setbacks encountered by big competitors such as Uber and Cruise, the latter of which was recently approved to open up operations in San Francisco, Waymo could also face stiff competition from newcomers to the AI-driven space. Newcomers with long histories in the technology market, such as Huawei and others.
Waymo hasn’t detailed exactly how the funding received in the latest investment round will be spent. But it will most likely go toward increasing testing and improving both the AI and the sensors the AI utilizes to drive safely.
Why is this funding important now?
With business beginning to return to normal as more people are vaccinated against Covid-19, Waymo will need to step up its game to stay relevant in the self-driving industry. As the competition heats up and people begin to travel again. As noted above, one of its biggest competitors is Cruise. And that competitor recently received the go-ahead to begin driving in San Francisco — a big win against the Google-associated company.
While those rides haven’t started yet for Cruise, the approval does put it ahead of Waymo in the region. The company has yet to receive its permit from the California DMV and the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). Cruise also matches Waymo in terms of funding. Last year, Waymo announced an initial funding round at around $2.25-billion. That was ultimately extended, giving the company approximately $3.25-billion.
The latest funding round puts Waymo just short of $6 billion. But Cruise also recently announced some help for its endeavors from GM. To the tune of around $5-billion.