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UK self-driving AI car start-up Wayve raises $1bn in new funding round

Written by Thu 9 May 2024

UK start-up, Wayve, has secured £841 million ($1.05 billion) in funding led by Japanese investment firm SoftBank, to advance artificial intelligence (AI) supported car development and production.

Wayve is preparing to expand globally by leveraging its Embodied AI approach, which allows vehicles to learn from human behaviours in real-world settings.

Founded in 2017, the UK firm previously raised £160 million ($200 million) in early 2022 during its Series B round, led by Eclipse Ventures. The latest Series C investment saw tech giant Microsoft and AI computing company NVIDIA join SoftBank.

Co-founder and CEO of Wayve, Alex Kendall, said the collaboration will help advance Wayve’s mission to redefine driving with AI at its 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,” said Kendall.

Not only is this funding the largest investment in a European AI firm, but it also ranks as one of the largest global investments in AI. Where Wayve sees itself as differing from competitors in the market is its focus on research in both multimodal and generative AI models.

The end goal for Wayve is for their tools to enable AI to give cars the ability to gain intuition, language-responsive interfaces and personalised driving styles.

UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, called the investment ‘a testament to our leadership in this industry, and that our plan for the economy is working’.

While Wayve has spent time piloting autonomous car trials, there is no clear data on when self-driving AI cars could hit the roads. Several regulatory and safety issues must be addressed before AI-backed self-driving cars become commonplace in the UK.

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Written by Thu 9 May 2024

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