Grendelkhan / CC BY-SA

Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. and Google’s former self-driving project, has raised $2.5 billion in its second external funding round, the proceeds of which would be used to continue advancing Waymo Driver, its autonomous driving platform, and growing its own team.

The funding round was led by Alphabet and other existing investors, including AutoNation, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Fidelity Management & Research Company, Magna International, Mubadala Investment Company, Perry Creek Capital, Silver Lake, and Tiger Global, and comes after Waymo CEO John Krafcik had stepped down from his position in April. Krafcik was succeeded jointly by Tekedra Mawakana, former COO, and Dmitri Dolgov, former CTO.

Both Dolgov and Mawakana said in a statement that there was no greater challenge in artificial intelligence than building and deploying fully autonomous technology at scale.

Dolgov said that the recent round gave them a decent amount of runway, but they were optimizing for the long term. “We have great partners and great investors who are committed to going the distance with us and not compromising for the long-term success of this company.”

“2021 has been quite a year of consolidation in the industry and we think of ourselves as a company that has real services being used by real customers, as well as having this broad mix of future business models being tested alongside incredible partners like UPS, J.B Hunt, Daimler Trucks, and Stellantis,” Mawakana added.

It was under Krafcik’s leadership that Waymo had raised $2.25 billion in its first external funding round last year. The company has been criticized by many for not advancing as fast as was expected towards the commercialization of its technology. Waymo’s dependency on human safety drivers has continued for a long time since fully autonomous driving is not yet a foolproof and accident-free technology.

The firm is increasingly relying on other investors to help support itself. Its delivery unit, Waymo Via, works with freight partners and delivery clients such as UPS to transport goods, while its vehicles have driven over tens of miles on public roads across 25 cities in the United States to date, the company said.

Self driving cars are still a long way down the road, even though there have been significant advancements in the technology over the past years. Thus, Waymo still has a long way to go, and this new capital will help ensure that it has the gas to reach where it needs to be.