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What you need to know: This weblog captures key data points about the global telecoms industry. I use it as an electronic notebook to support my work for Pringle Media.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Autnomous Driving Start-Up Raises One Billion Dollars

Artificial intelligence start-up Wayve, which is working with various vehicle makers on autonomous driving, said it has raised 1.05 billion US dollars in a series C funding round led by SoftBank Group with contributions from new investor NVIDIA and existing investor Microsoft. The London-based company has now raised 1.3 billion dollars across three rounds. 

Wayve's immediate plans include launching its first product featuring L2+ ADAS (level 2 advanced driver assistance systems).  Its automated driving technology is built with "end-to-end deep learning" and doesn't require high-definition maps, potentially making it more cost-effective and scalable than rival solutions. The start-up believes the ADAS market will be worth more than 100 billion dollars even before full autonomy is reached.

Wayve claims its "technology excels where others have struggled: mastering driving in complex urban environments with camera-only navigation and adapting to cities unseen during training just like how you and I drive."

In a blog post, CEO Alex Kendall wrote: "Since our inception, we have held a core belief that end-to-end AI (see AV2.0 graphic below) will make autonomy possible. This has been a deeply contrarian approach against the rest of the market, and we are excited to see our progress and this funding as a massive endorsement of our vision." The AV1.0 graphic below shows Wayve's view of how other companies are developing autonomous vehicle technologies, although Kendall noted that Tesla has pivoted to end-to-end AI with v12 of its full self driving system.

Comparing "embodied AI" with generative AI, Kendall said that the data collected from vehicles' video, radar and LiDAR systems already amount to several times the petabytes of all the language data in the world. "Every year, millions of vehicles are built with the necessary sensing and compute for training and deploying embodied AI," he added. "These vehicles are already being driven today doing useful work, meaning that data collection can be achieved with low operational cost, unlike with other robotics applications. These vehicles are being operated around the world and experience open-set, unconstrained environments, rich with the long tail of edge cases." Source: Wayve blog post

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