Wayve gets $1bn investment to develop AI for self-driving vehicles

UK AI company Wayve has announced a $1.05 billion investment to develop the next generation of AI-powered self-driving vehicles, the biggest ever investment in a UK AI company.

Backed by SoftBank Group, NVIDIA and Microsoft, Wayve will use this investment to develop and launch the first ’embodied AI’.

Embodied AI will enable self-driving vehicles to learn from and interact with a real-world environment, including the ability to navigate and learn from situations that do not follow strict patterns or rules, such as unexpected actions by drivers or pedestrians – going far beyond the capabilities of existing AV technology.

The self-driving vehicle sector has huge potential, generating £475 million of direct investment and createing 1,500 new jobs between 2018 and 2022.

By 2035 the industry grows is expected to be worth £42 billion and employ another 38,000 skilled workers, on top of the 50,000 people currently working in the field. 

Alex Kendall, Co-founder and CEO of Wayve said: ‘The UK has a rich and inspiring AI heritage, which lives on today with top talent, world-class universities, and innovation-friendly regulation, bolstered by events like the AI Summit. Today, we are proud to contribute to this legacy with our announcement of a $1.05bn Series C investment round, the largest-ever AI fundraise in UK history.

‘The UK’s progressive testing framework has supported our rapid development of cutting-edge AI, and we’ve been pleased to work with the Government on the Automated Vehicles Bill which gives investors confidence that the UK is truly a leader in AI and AVs.

‘This investment will help us launch our Embodied AI products and expand our operations globally. It sends a crucial signal to the market of the strength of the UK’s AI ecosystem, and we look forward to watching more AI companies here thrive and scale.’

Wayve’s investment comes as the UK’s Automated Vehicle Bill is set to conclude its passage through parliament in the coming weeks which will enable the safe deployment of self-driving vehicles, delivering one of the world’s most comprehensive legal frameworks for self-driving vehicles.

Under the Bill’s provisions all self-driving vehicles will be required to undergo robust safety testing before they are permitted to drive on UK roads. The Bill will also ensure clear legal liability when a vehicle is driving itself by creating new legal entities responsible for self-driving vehicles.

Self-driving vehicles also have the potential to make transport safer, more convenient and more accessible, improving the lives of millions of people. With 88% of accidents currently involving human error, there is also huge potential for automated vehicles to reduce costs, injuries, and fatalities.

Image: Hyundai 


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