We finally have an idea of how much Google has poured into self-driving cars.
Between 2009 and 2015, Google spent at least $US1.1 billion to develop the tech powering its self-driving cars, IEEE Spectrum’s Mark Harris first reported. The details were made public in a court filing that shows the August 24 deposition of Shawn Bananzadeh, a financial analyst at Waymo, the self-driving car company that was spun out of Google.
Bananzadeh was testifying as part of Waymo’s lawsuit against Uber, which claims the ride-hailing company stole intellectual property and trade secrets to develop its own autonomous technology.
Bananzadeh said it costs at least $US1.1 billion to develop three different trade secrets within that seven-year time period. That figure, however, is a low estimate because it does not factor in equity and other expenses, Bananzadeh said.
“As I mentioned earlier, there are — there are equity that’s missing from this, as well as, like, intracompany expenses of the allocated expensive,” he said.
Before it was Waymo, Google’s self-driving-car research was an internal program dubbed Project Chauffeur. The secretive project was born in 2009, but it was kept under wraps, making it difficult to assess how much Google was spending to make its driverless utopian vision a reality.
Bananzadeh’s testimony shows Google spent at least $US1.1 billion on just tech development from the program’s inception to 2015.
Although $US1.1 billion is nothing to sniff at, it seems relatively modest in an industry dominated by tech giants with deep pockets. Alphabet reportedly wants to invest $US1 billion in ride-hailing startup Lyft, a sum that would equal its 7-year spending on tech development.