Wayve, a UK startup founded in 2017, raised a $20 million Series A round to launch a pilot fleet of self-driving Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs in central London. Wayve believes the engineering challenges of self-driving cars will be solved by better artificial intelligence, not by more sensors and hand-coded rules.
Wayve trains its autonomous driving system using reinforcement learning, simulation, computer vision, and GPS. Wayve Co-founder and CEO Amar Shah said self-driving cars should learn about new environments the way humans do.
“As computational power and data continue to grow, learning-based approaches will become more inevitable, especially for mobile robotics,” said Shah. “The human brain has evolved over millions of years, computers have only had a few decades, but are catching up quickly.”
Wayve’s Series A round was led by Eclipse Ventures, with participation from Balderton, existing investors and several other undisclosed investors. Before the Series A round, Wayve had raised $3.1 million.
“Wayve’s differentiated approach to autonomy builds on timely advances in the fields of reinforcement learning, simulation and computer vision,” said Seth Winterroth, partner at Palo Alto-based Eclipse Ventures. “Furthermore, by locating the company in the UK, the team has access to an extraordinary talent pool and numerous complex testing environments.”
“The average human learns to drive in just 50 hours with visual input primarily. Once we have learned, we are capable at driving on roads around the world despite vastly differing traffic laws and cultural context,” said Suranga Chandratillake, Partner at Balderton Capital. “Wayve’s self-driving technology is the closest to this human approach to learning. The great advantage of solving the problem this way is that it is robust in the face of a global opportunity.”
Largest Autonomous Vehicle Investments of 2019
|Company||Amt. ($M)||Lead Investor||Date|
|Argo AI||2600||Volkswagen AG||7/11|
|Cruise||1150||Honda Motor Corp.||5/7|
|Uber ATG||1000||Softbank Vision Fund||4/18|
|Nuro.ai||940||Softbank Vision Fund||2/11|
|Xpeng Motors||400||Xiaomi Corp.||11/15|
|Innoviz Technologies||170||China Merchants Capital||3/26|
In April 2019, Wayve published a blog and video that allegedly detailed its autonomous driving system driving on roads it had never been on before “using just a simple sat-nav route map and basic cameras. We don’t tell the car how to drive with hand coded rules: everything is learned from data. This allows us to navigate complex, narrow urban European streets for the first time.” You can watch the video below: