Google Has Spent At Least $1.1 Billion On Self-Driving Car Tech: Report

Photo: Waymo
Photo: Waymo

Billions are being spent on developing self-driving cars, as seen in megadeals like General Motors dumping $1 billion into Cruise Automation, or Intel paying $15 billion for chipmaker Mobileye. Now, thanks to an ongoing lawsuit between Google’s self-driving car project and Uber, we now know how much Google has spent on developing autonomous tech: at least $1.1 billion, according to IEEE Spectrum.


The figure emerged as a result of Google failing to redact it in a deposition from Shawn Bananzadeh, a financial analyst at Waymo. Here’s more from Spectrum:

When asked by an Uber lawyer how an estimate for developing one of the trade secrets, number 90, was arrived at, Bananzadeh replied: “My understanding is that it is a cost that captures the entire program spend from inception to the period of time where it stops.” He later clarified that meant from 2009, when Sebastian Thrun got the go-ahead for the project from Larry Page, to the end of 2015.

Throughout Bananzadeh’s deposition, every dollar amount was redacted to protect Waymo’s confidential commercial information. Every time, that is, except in the Uber lawyer’s very next question: “The calculation that was the basis of the $1.1 billion cost estimate for Trade Secret 90 is the same calculation that was done for Trade Secret 2 and Trade Secret 25?”

It’s unclear if the figure included salaries or incentives, and it’s hard to imagine it takes that into account; Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer at the center of the Uber suit, earned a $120 million bonus from the company, for instance. Waymo didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Though it’s comparatively on par with others in the field—Uber, for its part, spent $680 million acquiring Levandowski’s self-driving truck startup Otto—Waymo’s considered at the front of the pack in the self-driving car race.

The $1.1 billion figure is almost certainly something it didn’t want uncovered, but with a ferocious number of legal briefs being filed in the Uber case, just a month ahead before its trial is supposed to begin, it’s not exactly a surprise that a redaction is missed once in awhile.

Senior Reporter, Jalopnik/Special Projects Desk


son of a motherless goat (PSA: wash your hooves)

Is it just me or does $1.1 billion not sound like a crazy amount of money considering the scope of what they’re trying to accomplish here?