Alex Kendall, 29, is the co-founder and CEO of self-driving startup Wayve.

Source: Wave

British startup Wayve on Tuesday said it has raised $1.05 billion in an investment round led by Japan SoftBank to accelerate the growth of its self-driving car technology.

The Series C funding round includes new investor US chipmaker Nvidia and an existing investor, a software giant Microsoftwhich is a major supporter of AI firms.

The funding marks a major vote of confidence for the Cambridge-based firm. It also builds on the pile of money currently being used in the AI ​​space.

“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 integrating seamlessly into their daily lives to unlock extraordinary value,” Alex Kendall, Co-Founder and Chief CEO of Wayve, said in a statement.

“This significant funding milestone underscores our team’s unwavering belief that Embodied AI will address the industry’s long-standing challenges in scaling this technology for everyone, everywhere.”

Founded in 2017, Wayve is one of a number of startups looking to provide autonomous driving, a technology that allows cars to move efficiently without humans at the helm.

Unlike Teslawhich makes its own cars, Wayve licenses its self-driving technology to other businesses, including retailers and automakers.

A vote of confidence in British technology

Wayve uses a series of cameras and sensors to map the environment to ensure cars can safely navigate around densely populated urban areas with little or no human supervision.

The company focuses on developing “embodied AI” technology for self-driving vehicles, which includes AI that can understand and adapt to the unpredictable realities of the physical world.

For example, a car powered by self-driving technology driving down a residential road would need to be equipped for unpredictable situations, such as crossing a street.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak welcomed the news of Wayve’s latest funding round on Tuesday, saying it was “proof of our leadership in this industry”.

“From the first light bulb or the world wide web, to artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, the UK has a proud record of being at the forefront of some of the greatest technological advances in history,” Sunack said in a statement.

“I’m incredibly proud that the UK is home to pioneers like Wayve, who are breaking ground as they develop the next generation of AI models for self-driving cars.”

Between 2018 and 2022, the self-driving vehicle sector in the UK has generated £475m of direct investment and created 1,500 new jobs, the government has announced.

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