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Wayve to develop AI automated driving technology

Alex KendallCo-founder and CEO of Wayve

British AI company Wayve has secured a US$1.05 billion investment to accelerate its mission to reimagine autonomous mobility through embodied intelligence.

Backed by SoftBank Group, NVIDIA and Microsoft, Wayve will use this latest investment to fully develop and launch the first ‘embodied AI’ technology products for self-driving vehicles in the UK.

Embodied AI technology goes beyond Generative AI and large language models and will lead to a paradigm shift in how machines interact with and learn from human behaviour in real-world environments.

The technology has the potential to enhance the usability and safety of autonomous driving systems, empowering them with the intelligence to confidently navigate situations that do not follow strict patterns or rules, such as unexpected actions by drivers, pedestrians, or environmental elements.

Alex Kendall (pictured), Co-founder and CEO of Wayve, said: “At Wayve, our vision is to develop autonomous technology that not only becomes a reality in millions of vehicles but also earns people’s trust by seamlessly integrating into their everyday lives to unlock extraordinary value.

“This significant funding milestone highlights our team’s unwavering conviction that Embodied AI will address the long-standing challenges the industry has faced in scaling this technology to everyone, everywhere.

“Our collaboration with SoftBank, NVIDIA, and Microsoft will help advance our mission to redefine driving with AI at the core. This investment will enable us to develop and launch our first Embodied AI products for the automotive industry, empowering OEMs to provide consumers with trustworthy and beneficial automated driving experiences.”

Founded in 2017, Wayve was the first to develop and test an end-to-end (e2e) AI autonomous driving system on public roads. This paved the way for an industry-wide shift towards AI, coined ‘AV2.0’. Through its long-standing work, Wayve has successfully developed foundation models for autonomy, similar to a ‘GPT for driving,’ that can empower any vehicle to perceive its surroundings and safely drive through diverse environments.

Kentaro Matsui, Managing Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, Head of the New Business Office at SoftBank Group and Board Member at Wayve, commented: “AI is revolutionising mobility. Vehicles can now interpret their surroundings like humans, enabling enhanced decision-making that promises higher safety standards. The potential of this type of technology is transformative; it could eliminate 99% of traffic accidents.

“SoftBank Group is delighted to be at the forefront of this effort with Wayve, as advanced intelligence redefines mobility and connectivity, contributing to a more convenient and safer society.”

The investment in Wayve comes as the UK’s Automated Vehicles Bill has moved a step closer to becoming law in the coming weeks.

Prime Minister, Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, said: “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 business has secured the biggest investment yet in a UK AI company 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 businesses 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.”