Waymo lays off undisclosed number of employees amid tech’s economic downturn

Self-driving technology company Waymo laid off a “limited” number of employees this week across multiple departments, according to a company spokesperson.

The company did not disclose the number of employees affected. The moves come amid economic headwinds stymying the autonomous vehicle industry in particular and tech sector overall.

Waymo is an independent subsidiary of Alphabet. The layoffs come in addition to 12,000 jobs cut by Google in recent days.

At least two dozen dismissed Waymo employees announced their layoffs on LinkedIn. Their job titles reflected the across-the-board nature of the cuts: perception, systems and software engineers, fleet maintenance professionals, systems integrators and more.

In perhaps signs of the uneven AV business landscape, recruiters and friends pointed the freshly unemployed Waymo veterans to active openings at self-driving tech companies such as Cruise, Gatik, Kodiak Robotics, Motional and Outrider.

Motional itself conducted an undisclosed number of layoffs in November. Waymo’s reductions come three months after a key robotaxi competitor, Argo AI, entirely shuttered operations. Argo was a joint venture between Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen Group.

Despite the layoffs, the company’s goals for 2023 remain unaffected, according to the spokesperson. But plans for the company’s Via autonomous trucking unit have been pushed back. Waymo has never publicly outlined a specific time frame for commercially deploying its Class 8 tractor trailers without humans aboard. Nonetheless the internal timeline has been “slightly” delayed, the spokesperson said.

Ongoing pilot projects with trucking partners like UPS and JB Hunt will continue, as will work developing the self-driving system’s capabilities in highway operations, the spokesperson said.

The company’s Waymo One passenger-carrying commercial service, which had already been the company’s short-term focus and now operates without human safety drivers in Phoenix, remains the near-term priority.

No reductions in the number of vehicles on the road, either in testing or commercial service have been made, according to the spokesperson. The company still has more than 700 vehicles in its fleet and more than 2,000 employees, the spokesperson said.

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