Photo: Getty

A billion dollars for a self-driving tech company? It’s not unheard of anymore. But a new report from the Brookings Institute sheds light on just how much loot has been spent on the race to bring fully-autonomous cars to the public. The total, so far: $80 billion.


There’s no public tracker of how much has been spent on autonomous vehicles, the report’s authors note, so they set out to calculate an aggregate total for AV investment to date, focusing on deals that were announced between August 2014 and June 2017. And it only provides a snapshot of what’s likely an even larger sum; the Institute says it only tallied deals where investments amounts were shared publicly. It’s also a far cry from an investment amount that’s expected only to grow exponentially.

Still, it’s a gargantuan sum, an indicator of how much tech companies and automakers believe that autonomy is the way of the future. From the report:

The data collected related to more than 160 separate deals, including investments, partnerships, and acquisitions. The announced figures for these deals approach $80 billion dollars. Given the limitations on available information discussed above, it is reasonable to presume that total global investment in autonomous vehicle technology is significantly more than this.

The last two years have been especially busy, evident by a timeline of major deals pieced together by Brookings:

Photo: Brookings

The Brookings writers say there’s consensus that “wide deployment” of autonomous vehicles will happen in a “matter of years rather than decades.” I suppose that’s based on how you define “wide.” Automakers themselves believe it’ll take several decades to cycle through products and phase-out manually-operated vehicles, and the initial deployment of fully-automated cars—which most automakers hope to see happen by early next decade—will be confined to ride-hailing purposes in small urban cores.

But it’s going to be a costly, interesting ride.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk

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