Alphabet's Waymo raises $2.25 bn to rev up autonomous projects

Waymo self-driving vehicles are seen near the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California in 2018 (AFP Photo/JUSTIN SULLIVAN)

San Francisco (AFP) - Waymo said Monday it had raised $2.25 billion in its first external funding round to help the former Google car unit accelerate its deployment of autonomous cars and trucks.

Born in a Google lab devoted to big-vision new technology, Waymo became a subsidiary of Alphabet in 2016 -- and has been one of the tech giant's "other bets" that have been losing money in recent years.

Leading the investment round are the equity firm Silver Lake, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Mubadala Investment Company based in the United Arab Emirates.

Other investors include the automotive supplier Magna International, venture firm Andreessen Horowitz and the automotive retailer AutoNation, as well as Alphabet.

"We've always approached our mission as a team sport," said Waymo 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."

With the new funding, Krafcik said, "we'll deepen our investment in our people, our technology, and our operations, all in support of the deployment of the Waymo Driver around the world."

Waymo has been operating an autonomous rideshare pilot program in Arizona, with some of the rides without any human driver, and has announced new tests in the US states of Texas and New Mexico.

Waymo has also begun using the same technology for self-driving trucks that haul cargo bound for Alphabet data centers in Georgia.

According to the company, the Waymo Driver technology has logged more than 20 million miles (32 million kilometers) on public roads across over 25 cities, and over 10 billion miles in simulation.