AV Companies Restart Testing
After shutting down their AV trials due to COVID-19, Waymo, Baidu, Pony.ai, and Aurora have all resumed testing this week, with Zoox also announcing plans to restart soon in Las Vegas. In a blog post announcing its decision to restart testing in Arizona on May 11, Waymo said, “The health and safety of our riders, team, and partners is our number one priority as we begin driving again,” adding that it will also resume in San Francisco, Detroit, and Los Angeles “in the days and weeks to come.”
While AV companies have continued to test through simulations and alternatives, the pandemic has had a significant effect on timelines for AV deployment. In the New York Times, Waymo CEO John Krafcik noted that COVID-19 had set work back at least two months due to social distancing rules and difficulties in sourcing hardware from other countries. Other analysts, such as BCG’s Brian Collie, believe the setbacks dealt by the pandemic mean years will be added on to deployment dates. Collie told Bloomberg that while 2022 was a commonly accepted number for commercialization, “We’re now looking at being pushed out to 2025, 2026.”
Intel Acquires Moovit For $900 Million
Intel has confirmed that it is buying Israeli mobility startup Moovit, a multimodal trip planner that combines public transit, micromobility, ridehailing, and others to give users the best transportation options for a journey, in a deal worth $900 million. A press release from Intel stated the acquisition will help AV technology provider Mobileye—a company Intel bought for $15.3 billion in 2017—accelerate its mobility-as-a-service aspirations. The statement adds that Intel’s purchase of Moovit will also help Mobileye become a complete mobility provider, including robotaxi services.
This is the third significant investment Intel has made in Israel. In addition to Mobileye, it acquired artificial intelligence firm Habana Labs for $2 billion in December. Alongside the Moovit acquisition, Intel has already invested $132 million in 11 startups this year alone, including vehicle connectivity company Axonne, autonomous business operations manager Anodot, and Israel’s XSight Labs—a company that accelerates the data-intensive workloads associated with artificial intelligence applications.
Waymo Expands First External Investment Round To $3 Billion
Waymo has added an extra $750 million to the $2.25 billion funding round that it first announced in March, bringing the total size of its funding to $3 billion. The funding represents the first from investors outside of Google parent company Alphabet, and the expanded investment includes T. Rowe Price, Perry Creek Capital, and Fidelity Management and Research Company, among others. In a Waymo blog post announcing the news, CEO John Krafcik said the company will “use this injection of capital to deepen our investment in our people, our technology, and our Waymo One and Waymo Via operations.”