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Waymo raises $2.25 billion – plans for 60% market share of Autonomous vehicles by 2030

Waymo, Google parent company Alphabet’s autonomous vehicles division, has just secured its first round of funding of $2.25 billion from the whose who of funds including 

  • Silver Lake, 
  • Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, 
  • Mubadala Investment Company (the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi), 
  • Magna International, 
  • Andreessen Horowitz, 
  • auto retail giant AutoNation, 
  • and of course Alphabet itself. 

It’s an initial close on the company’s first round of funding.

CEO of Waymo  John Krafcik (formerly CEO of Hyundai) said that to build a successful business – collaboration is key – and that business is a team sport.  “Waymo is delighted to  bring to the team a bevy of financial investors who will bring decades of experience investing in and supporting successful technology companies building transformative products.”

The Vision  

 “to deploy “the Waymo Driver” around the world making our roads safer, 

The state of play

Today 

  • headcount to 1,500 employees or “Waymonauts,” 
  • annual cost a around $1 billion, while its robo-taxi business — Waymo One — reportedly yields just hundreds of thousand dollars a year in revenue from its 600 vehicles to date, 
  • over 1,500 people are using its ride-hail autonomous taxis with 100,000 total rides since launching its rider programs in 2017.

History 

2009 – Google tests autonomous cars equipped with lidar sensors, radar, cameras, and powerful onboard computers in San Francisco 

2016 – Waymo launches in Phoenix doing a partnership deal with Lyft

2019 – Waymo app launches – look and feel not dissimilar to the UBER and Lyft app.

The Plan 

2020 – short term plan – add up to 62,000 Chrysler Pacifica minivans to its fleet and has signed a deal with Jaguar Land Rover to equip 20,000 of the automaker’s Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs with its system by 2020. (A few of the I-Paces are currently undergoing testing on public roads in San Francisco.)

2025-2030 

According to marketing firm ABI, as many as 8 million driverless cars will be added to the road in 2025, and Research and Markets anticipates that there will be some 20 million autonomous cars in operation in the U.S. by 2030. 

Waymo plans to dominate the driverless car market in the next decade, with over 60% market share – and the smart money clearly believes the narrative .

The technology 

Later this year, Waymo plans to release its latest autonomous driving system — the fifth-generation Waymo Driver — featuring a new lidar sensor design that’s “breakthrough” in terms of cost-efficiency. The fifth-generation Driver will also boast revamped radars and vision systems, as well as “all-weather” capabilities including defrost and wiper elements and a “significant upgrade” in onboard compute power.

The competitors 

Yandex, Tesla, Zoox, Aptiv, May Mobility, Pronto.ai, Aurora, Nuro, and GM’s Cruise Automation are among Waymo’s self-driving car competitors, to name just a few. 

Daimler last summer obtained a permit from the Chinese government that allows it to test autonomous cars powered by Baidu’s Apollo platform on public roads in China. 

Beijing-based Pony.ai, which has raised hundreds of millions in venture capital, launched a driverless taxi pilot in Irvine in October. 

And startup Optimus Ride built out a small autonomous shuttle fleet in New York City, becoming the first to do so.

China is making a big push to catch up. Since December, Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai have all given the green light for autonomous cars to start real-world testing on city roads

The People in the Game 

It’s a small but growing industry – where talent is at a massive premium 

Engineeers, Softwate developers and technicians with experience in this space can name their price!! 


Here is a list of some of the players in the game

  • John Krafcik – CEO of Waymo supported by Egon Durban – Co -CEO  of Sver Lake 
  • Chris Urmson – CEO Aurora supporyed by  Carle Eschenbach – sequoia representativ
  • Sterling Anderson – ex Tesla
  • Drew Bagne – ex Uber 
  • Anthony Levandowski – set up pronto – ex Uber exec – indicted for stealing Waymo technology
  • Randell Iwasaki, executive director of Contra Costa Transportation Authority, which is trying to deploy both U.S. and foreign-made shuttles on public roads.
  • Robert Falck – Einride CEO 
  • Don Burnette recently secured $40 million for their startup, Kodiak Robotics
  • Edwin Olson of the University of Michigan 
  • Nidhi Kalra of the RAND Corporation — 
  • Huu-Hoi Tran, the head of KPMG’s automotive practice in China.
  • Robin Li, Baidu’s chief executive, said autonomous cars would be on Chinese roads within three to five years
  • And of course Elon Musk of Tesla

Self-driving trucks

Self driving trucks have always been the holy grail – and Waymo has clearly put its stake in the ground.

Chrysler Pacifica vans have been retrofitted with Waymo’s technology stack and is mapping roads ahead of driverless Peterbilt trucks as part of a project known as Waymo Via. 

Waymo Via — formally announced today — focusses on “all forms of goods delivery.” 

It encompasses both short- and long-haul delivery, from freight transported across interstates down to local delivery. 

They have started mapping  Los Angeles to study congestion and expanding testing to highways in Florida between Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, and Miami as it conducts self-driving truck pilots in the San Francisco Bay Area, Michigan, Arizona, Georgia, and on Metro Phoenix freeways (as well as on the I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson). 

In the Metro Pheonix area, the company is piloting autonomous vehicle package transportation between UPS Store locations and a local UPS sorting facility.

The market and value proposition of self driving trucks 

6,700 units globally, totaling $54.23 billion saving the logistics and shipping industry $70 billion annually and boosting productivity by 30%. 

The Pain 

In 2018, the American Trucking Associates recognised a shortage of truck drivers – estimating that 50,000 more truckers were needed to meet demand, even after proposed U.S. Transportation Department screenings for sleep apnea were sidelined.

The Competition 

  •  TuSimple raised $12 bbg 0m in September 
  •  Pronto.ai – intrigue – CEO being sued for stealing Waymo secrets 
  • Aurora, the last of which attracted a $530 million investment at a valuation over $2 billion in February (led by Sequoia )
  • Ike, a self-driving truck startup founded by former Apple, Google, Uber Advanced Technologies Group engineers that has raised $52 million
  •  Einride Swedish driverless car company 
  • Meanwhile, former Battery Ventures VP Paz Eshel and former Uber and Otto engineer Don Burnette recently secured $40 million for their startup, Kodiak Robotics. 
  • Embark — which integrates its driverless systems into semis and launched a pilot with Amazon to haul cargo
  • Other autonomous truck solutions from incumbents like Daimler and Volvo.

The technology networks and infrastructure driving the technology


The industry will advance with the advent of 5G –  it will be interesting to see how collaboration takes place between the players  

The Chinese telecoms Huawei is providing its AI infrastructure to a number of high-profile carmakers, including Audi, and China’s state-owned carmakers, GAC Group, Beijing New Energy Automobile, and Changan Automobile.

Posted on March 3, 2020

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