UAE invests in advanced self-driving project

06 Mar 2020

Waymo, the self-driving division of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, recently raised as much as $2.25bn within its first external funding route, which the United Arab Emirates had more than a little to do with.

Three members led the investment round, in the form of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, private equity company Silver Lake Partners, and Mubadala Investment Company, the sovereign wealth fund of the UAE.

Mubadala Investment Company is a UAE-owned international investment business intended to create sustainable financial returns with the use of a diversified and integrated economy all over the world, the firm’s website states.

Venture capital business Andreessen Horowitz was one of a number of other investors that also pitched in, with the efforts of Waymo proving to be unstoppable.

Just a few days after the successful funding round, the company revealed its fifth-generation driving system, which it claims features updated sensors that are stronger than ever before.

The new system, which has been in development for 10 years, comes with 29 cameras that are integrated all over the car, allowing it to spot a stop sign from 500 metres away, The Verge says.

The company’s primary aim is the building and deployment of the most experienced driver in the world, according to Waymo’s CEO John Krafcik.

It is uncertain what Waymo’s current valuation is after the new investment.

The first Google self-driving project was launched by Waymo 11 years ago back in 2009 following its acquisition by Alphabet, with investment, research and work being done to make certain of driver safety.

The company’s self-driving cars have so far driven over 20m miles on public roads.

The UAE intends to be part of this history-making project, particularly given its own efforts within this sector.

A number of self-driving vehicles, including taxis, have been made public in Dubai over the course of the last few years, with the emirate being just one city in the region wanting to increase the viability of its roads for e-cars, though much work is left undone.

The Roads and Transport Authority of the UAE believes that by the year 2030, 25% of all trips taken in Dubai will be autonomous.

A YouGov poll taken earlier this year saw nearly 50% of UAE residents claiming to want to own a self-driving vehicle within the next five years, if possible – and it may well be.

In 2019, the announcement was made that as early as 2021, driverless vehicles could be on the roads in Gulf nations, and the UAE is certainly taking the possibility seriously in regard to regulations.

New legislations were announced by Dubai just last month to make it simpler for driverless cars to be tested on the roads of the emirate, with the goal being to cut down on the costs of accidents, carbon emissions and transport in general.

Anyone who is driving any kind of motor vehicle in the UAE still needs to be covered by basic third-party car insurance as a matter of law.