Department of Engineering / News / Wayve – a pioneer in embodied AI for autonomous driving – raises $1bn in new funding round

Department of Engineering

Wayve – a pioneer in embodied AI for autonomous driving – raises $1bn in new funding round

Wayve – a pioneer in embodied AI for autonomous driving – raises $1bn in new funding round

LEFT: Alex Kendall, Wayve Co-founder and CEO. RIGHT: The Wayve team.

UK AI company Wayve – co-founded by alumnus Alex Kendall in 2017 while studying for his PhD at Cambridge – has secured more than $1 billion to develop AI for self-driving vehicles.

We are proud to contribute to this legacy (the UK's AI heritage) with our announcement of a $1.05bn Series C investment round, the largest-ever AI fundraise in UK history.

Alumnus Alex Kendall

Backed by SoftBank Group, NVIDIA and Microsoft, this announcement (made on May 7) marks the biggest investment in a UK AI company in history, and will see Wayve use the $1.05 billion to develop and launch the first “embodied AI” technology for self-driving vehicles in the UK.

Embodied AI will enable self-driving (otherwise known as automated) vehicles to learn from and interact with a real-world environment, including the ability to navigate and learn from situations that do not follow strict patterns or rules, such as unexpected actions by drivers or pedestrians – going far beyond the capabilities of existing AV technology.

It was during his PhD in Deep Learning, Computer Vision and Robotics, under the supervision of Professor Roberto Cipolla in the Machine Intelligence Laboratory, that the groundwork for what would become Wayve began to take shape. Hear more from Alex about his time at Cambridge.

And in November this year, Alex, Wayve CEO, will be returning to Cambridge to give a talk at the Department of Engineering as part of the Department’s 150th anniversary celebrations. More details on this event will be published soon.

Wayve has said that their advancements in self-driving vehicle technology have been supported by the UK’s Code of Practice: Automated Vehicle Trialling, which sets out a clear framework to support and promote the safe trialling of self-driving vehicle technology. The code of practice is world-leading in its pro-innovation and flexible approach towards the development and testing of self-driving in the UK.

It relies on the company taking accountability for safety, without the requirement for onerous regulatory processes and red tape. Wayve has said the UK’s approach has been integral to their ability to build AI for assisted and automated driving so quickly.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “From the first electric light bulb or the World Wide Web to AI and self-driving cars – the UK has a proud record of being at the forefront of some of the biggest technological advancements in history.

“I’m incredibly proud that the UK is the home for pioneers like Wayve who are breaking ground as they develop the next generation of AI models for self-driving cars. The fact that a homegrown, British company has secured the biggest investment yet in a UK AI start-up is a testament to our leadership in this industry, and that our plan for the economy is working.

“We are leaving no stone unturned to create the economic conditions for start-ups to grow and thrive in the UK. We already have the third highest number of AI companies and private investment in AI in the world, and this announcement anchors the UK’s position as an AI superpower.”

Alex Kendall, Co-founder and CEO of Wayve, said: “The UK has a rich and inspiring AI heritage, which lives on today with top talent, world-class universities, and innovation-friendly regulation, bolstered by events like the AI Summit. Today, (May 7) we are proud to contribute to this legacy with our announcement of a $1.05bn Series C investment round, the largest-ever AI fundraise in UK history.

“The UK’s progressive testing framework has supported our rapid development of cutting-edge AI, and we’ve been pleased to work with the government on the Automated Vehicles Bill which gives investors confidence that the UK is truly a leader in AI and AVs.

“This investment will help us launch our embodied AI products and expand our operations globally. It sends a crucial signal to the market of the strength of the UK’s AI ecosystem, and we look forward to watching more AI companies here thrive and scale.”

Adapted from a UK Government press release.

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