Wayve Raises Over $1 Billion to develop embodied AI products for automated driving

The funding was led by SoftBank, with participation from NVIDIA and Microsoft. Balderton first invested in Wayve’s Series A in 2019.

Wayve, the market leader in Embodied artificial intelligence (AI) for autonomous driving, is thrilled to announce the successful closure of $1.05 billion in Series C funding. This round was led by SoftBank Group (“SoftBank”), with contributions from new investor NVIDIA and existing investor Microsoft. This investment will accelerate Wayve’s mission to reimagine autonomous mobility through embodied intelligence.

Balderton first invested in Wayve back in 2019, in the company’s Series A. Read more about the journey over the past five years from Suranga.

This round of financing, the single largest ever into an European AI company, will allow Wayve to build on its existing lead in Embodied AI and deliver autonomous vehicles on our roads. Wayve’s unique end-to-end reinforcement learning approach to self-driving cars has proven to build more robust machine intelligence faster, safer and at less cost than other, first generation competitors and it’s exciting to see the company now have the resource to take this approach to market.

Wayve is also a singularly important company for Europe. Embodied AI will be the next big frontier of artificial intelligence – bringing machine intelligence to the physical world around us and not just the computer screen that large language models are confined to – and it is great that the global pioneer and leader of this important industry is based right here in the UK.

Suranga Chandratillake Partner, Balderton

Embodied AI represents the next frontier of AI innovation, going beyond Generative AI and large language models. The integration of Embodied AI into vehicles and robots will lead to a paradigm shift in how machines interact with and learn from human behaviour in real-world environments. This innovation holds tremendous 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.

Founded in 2017, Wayve has emerged as a trailblazer in the field of Embodied AI for autonomous driving. Notably, Wayve was the first to develop and test an end-to-end (e2e) AI autonomous driving system on public roads. This pioneering effort paved the way for an industry-wide shift towards AI, coined ‘AV2.0’. Through their 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.

Wayve has dedicated years of extensive research and development to establishing itself as the market leader in AV2.0. They have developed hardware-agnostic AI driving models for mapless autonomous driving and a suite of innovative technologies, such as fleet learning, data infrastructure, evaluation, and simulation platforms designed to rapidly enhance their AI models using real-world and simulated data. By leveraging Wayve’s advanced proprietary tools, OEMs and fleet owners can generate valuable data assets that bridge the gap between raw data and unparalleled driving capabilities. Moreover, the company’s research on multimodal and generative models, known as LINGO and GAIA, is driving the automotive industry towards a future where AI in vehicles can offer advanced features like intuition, language-responsive interfaces, personalized driving styles, and co-piloting to enhance the automated driving experience.

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.

Alex Kendall CEO and founder, Wayve

This Series C investment enables Wayve to fully develop and launch the first Embodied AI products for production vehicles. Wayve’s hardware-agnostic, mapless product solutions allow OEMs to efficiently software upgrade cars to higher levels of driving 3 automation (from ‘eyes on’ assisted driving to ‘eyes off’ fully automated driving) as Wayve’s AI models progress. The company will also focus on scaling its foundation models, advancing Embodied AI research, and building an industry-leading AV2.0 Platform with reliable simulation, measurement, and active learning tools for automotive applications. Finally, funds will enable Wayve to expand operations and partnerships in new markets, building geographically diverse data assets and attracting global talent.

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.

Rishi Sunak Prime Minister, UK

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