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London-based autonomous vehicle (AV) start-up Wayve has raised $200 million from a prominent group of global financial and strategic investors for investment in further development of its artificial intelligence (AI) led approach on a global scale. They include D1 Capital Partners, Baillie Gifford, Moore Strategic Ventures and Linse Capital, as well as additional support from Microsoft and Virgin, and early-stage investors Compound and Balderton Capital, who join strategic investor Ocado Group and angel investors, including Sir Richard Branson.

The latest round of Series B funding, led by Eclipse Ventures, brings total equity raised to over $258 million since the company’s inception in 2017.

Alex Kendall, co-founder and CEO, Wayve (pictured above) said: “We were the first team to develop the scientific breakthroughs in deep learning to build autonomous driving technology that can easily scale to new markets using a data-learned approach. Today, we have all of the pieces in place to take what we have pioneered and drive AV2.0 forward. We have brought together world-class strategic partners in transportation, grocery delivery and compute, along with the best capital resources to scale our core autonomy platform, trial products with our commercial fleet partners, and build the infrastructure to scale AV2.0 globally.”

Machine learning

Wayve’s technology is designed to be the most adaptable AV system for fleet operators. It combines the advantages of a lean, camera-first sensing suite with the embodied intelligence of an end-to-end deep learning system that continually learns from petabyte-scale driving data provided by Wayve's partner fleets, including Ocado Group, Asda and DPD.

By using machine learning, Wayve is building a more scalable AV platform that can quickly and safely adapt its driving intelligence to new cities, different use-cases and vehicle types. This unlocks the potential to scale commercial deployments to other cities more quickly than the conventional AV approach, which typically relies on an expensive and complex array of sensors and is operationally limited by HD maps and rules-based control strategies.

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Seth Winterroth, partner, Eclipse Ventures said: “As the industry struggles to solve self-driving with traditional robotics, it is becoming increasingly clear that AV2.0 is the right pathway to build a scalable driving intelligence that can help commercial fleet operators deploy autonomy faster. Wayve is breaking new ground by building AVs that can adapt to driving in new cities, previously unseen in training. As the leaders in this field, they have assembled an exceptional team of machine learning experts and AV veterans to drive AV2.0 to reality.”

Wayve said the new capital raised will enable the company to continue to grow its team, develop a Level 4+ AV prototype for passenger vehicles and delivery vans, scale its deployments on partner fleets to commence last-mile delivery pilots, and develop the data infrastructure to improve its core autonomy platform at fleet scale. Achieving this will improve the accessibility of AV technology, allowing more businesses and individuals to benefit.

Jeff Lerman of D1 Capital Partners said: “We believe Wayve’s innovative AV2.0 technology has significant advantages over rules-based AV approaches, which can be limited by edge cases and a lack of modularity. In addition, we believe Wayve’s fleet partnerships enable high quality data collection at scale that serves as a competitive advantage. We are excited to back Alex and his team, who we view as industry pioneers.”