Microsoft, NVIDIA, and Softbank invest $1.05B in autonomous driving company Wayve

Wayve builds foundation models for autonomy, similar to a ‘GPT for driving,’ that can empower any vehicle to see, think, and drive through any environment.
Microsoft, NVIDIA, and Softbank invest $1.05B in autonomous driving company Wayve

British company Wayve has announced a $1.05 billion Series C investment round led by SoftBank Group, with contributions from new investor NVIDIA and existing investor Microsoft.

Founded in 2017, Wayve is a pioneer in Embodied AI for autonomous driving and is the first company to develop and test an end-to-end (e2e) deep-learning autonomous driving system on public roads. 

Today, the company is building foundation models for autonomy, similar to a ‘GPT for driving,’ that can empower any vehicle to see, think, and drive through any environment.

Wayve has 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 enhance their AI models using real-world and simulated data rapidly. 

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, personalised driving styles, and co-piloting to enhance the automated driving experience.

 As Wayve’s core AI model advances, these products will enable OEMs to efficiently upgrade cars to higher levels of driving automation, from L2+ assisted driving to L4 automated driving.

Integrating 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 will 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.

According to Alex Kendall, Co-founder and CEO of Wayve: 

“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.

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.”

Kentaro Matsui, Managing Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, Head of the New Business Office at SoftBank Group and Board Member at Wayve, said:

“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.”

Rishi Dhall, Vice President of Automotive Business at NVIDIA, said:

“Wayve is pioneering new AI applications for their next-generation AV2.0 approach, built on NVIDIA DRIVE Orin and DRIVE Thor, which uses the new NVIDIA Blackwell architecture designed for transformer, LLM, and Generative AI workloads. Together, we can help enable self-driving vehicles that deliver the intelligence, dependability, and skill of the best human drivers.”

SoftBank has joined Wayve’s Board of Directors as part of the final transaction. 

Lead image: Wayve. Photo: uncredited. 

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