London-based start-up Wayve, which is pioneering an artificial intelligence (AI) led approach to autonomous vehicles, has received US$200m in a Series B funding round, bringing total equity raised to over US$258m since its inception.
Wayve’s AV2.0 technology combines the advantages of a lean, camera-first sensing suite with the embodied intelligence of an end-to-end deep learning system that continually learns from petabyte-scale driving data provided by Wayve’s partner fleets, including Ocado Group, Asda and DPD.
By using machine learning, Wayve hopes to build a more scalable AV platform that can quickly and safely adapt its driving intelligence to new cities, different use cases and vehicle types. The company says this unlocks the potential to scale commercial deployments to other cities more quickly than the conventional AV approach, which typically relies on an expensive and complex array of sensors and is operationally limited by HD maps and rules-based control strategies.
Eclipse Ventures, a long-time supporter of Wayve, led the round with participation from new global financial investors. These investors include D1 Capital Partners, Baillie Gifford, Moore Strategic Ventures and Linse Capital, as well as additional support from Microsoft and Virgin, and early-stage investors Compound and Balderton Capital. They join strategic investor Ocado Group and a prominent list of angel investors that includes AI and industrial leaders such as Sir Richard Branson, Rosemary Leith, Linda Levinson, David Richter, Pieter Abbeel and Yann LeCun.
Microsoft has also joined as an investor (Wayve is using Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform, to scale its machine learning platform). Azure is providing the compute and storage capabilities required to run autonomous driving development and testing workloads and conduct machine learning experimentation to improve autonomy performance.
The new capital raised will enable Wayve to continue to grow its team, develop a Level 4+ AV prototype for passenger vehicles and delivery vans, scale its deployments on partner fleets to commence last-mile delivery pilots, and develop the data infrastructure to improve its core autonomy platform at fleet scale.
“We were the first team to develop the scientific breakthroughs in deep learning to build autonomous driving technology that can easily scale to new markets using a data-learned approach,” said Alex Kendall, co-founder and CEO of Wayve. “Today, we have all the pieces in place to take what we have pioneered and drive AV2.0 forward. We have brought together world-class strategic partners in transportation, grocery delivery and compute, along with the best capital resources to scale our core autonomy platform, trial products with our commercial fleet partners, and build the infrastructure to scale AV2.0 globally.”
Seth Winterroth, partner at Eclipse Ventures, added, “As the industry struggles to solve self-driving with traditional robotics, it is becoming increasingly clear that AV2.0 is the right pathway to build a scalable driving intelligence that can help commercial fleet operators deploy autonomy faster. Wayve is breaking new ground by building AVs that can adapt to driving in new cities, previously unseen in training. As the leaders in this field, they have assembled an exceptional team of machine learning experts and AV veterans to drive AV2.0 to reality.”
“We believe Wayve’s innovative AV2.0 technology has significant advantages over rules-based AV approaches, which can be limited by edge cases and a lack of modularity,” concluded Jeff Lerman of D1 Capital Partners. “In addition, we believe Wayve’s fleet partnerships enable high-quality data collection at scale that serves as a competitive advantage. We are excited to back Alex and his team, who we view as industry pioneers.”