Wayve: Nvidia backs UK self-driving start-up in US$1 billion funding round

Nvidia is investing in Wayve Technologies, joining a US$1.05 billion funding round for the UK start-up that wants to get its autonomous-driving technology into cars.

The fundraising – one of the largest ever for a European artificial intelligence company – was led by SoftBank Group, with existing investor Microsoft putting in further funds. The valuation was not disclosed, reports the South China Morning Post.

The cash injection underscores the continued investor demand for AI, and is a boost for the self-driving car industry, which has suffered setbacks in recent years in its efforts to convince regulators driverless cars are safe.

Wayve wants carmakers and other fleet operators to install its technology into their vehicles, rather than own or operate the cars themselves. The company received interest from several car companies about investing, but decided not to close off its options in future by partnering with a single manufacturer, Chief Executive Officer Alex Kendall said in an interview at Wayve’s headquarters in London.

Talks are continuing with carmakers about rolling out the technology in their vehicles, he added.

Kendall, who founded Wayve in 2017, plans to begin with driver assist technology – which will still require someone behind the wheel – before targeting vehicles that can operate without any human involvement.

Competing with the likes of Alphabet’s Waymo, Wayve’s technology aims to learn driving rules and patterns on its own, rather than needing them to be programmed in, so it can respond to new places and unpredictable scenarios on the road.


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