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Wayve’s $1.05 Bn Funding Secures Global Expansion Plans: UK Commits To Self-Driving Vehicle Deployment 

Last Updated May 7, 2024 4:34 PM
James Morales
Last Updated May 7, 2024 4:34 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Wayve has closed a $1.05 billion Series C funding round.
  • The investment from SoftBank, Microsoft and Nvidia cements the firm as a major player in self-driving technology.
  • Meanwhile, he UK’s Automated Vehicle Bill is set to conclude its passage through parliament.

The UK’s Automated Vehicle Bill  is set to conclude its passage through parliament in the coming weeks, setting the stage for the first self-driving cars to hit the roads as early as next year.

With the necessary regulation imminent, Wayve could become the UK’s Waymo, having secured  $1.05 billion in fresh funding to help develop and deploy its autonomous driving AI.

Wayve Tops European AI Investment Table

With contributions from SoftBank, Microsoft and Nvidia, Wayve’s Series C funding round cements its position as one of Europe’s most valuable AI companies.

The deal marks the largest-ever investment in a European AI startup, topping the $500 million raised by Aleph Alpha in November and Mistral’s $415 million Series A in December.

Commenting on the investment, CEO Alex Kendall hailed the UK’s “inspiring AI heritage” and “innovation-friendly regulations.”

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the announcement “anchors the UK’s position as an AI superpower.”

The UK as an AI Superpower

While Sunak’s eagerness to jump on the good news might have something to do with his party’s abysmal performance in last week’s local elections, he isn’t wrong to depict the country as an AI powerhouse. 

Like so many of the country’s AI startups, Wayve has its roots in Cambridge, where the city’s academic institutions and research culture have created one of the most fertile innovation clusters in the world.

But legislation such as the Automated Vehicle Bill should also be credited for supporting the growth of the country’s AI sector.

Self-Driving Vehicle Regulation

First announced in the 2023 King’s Speech, the Automated Vehicle Bill lays out safety standards manufacturers will be required to comply with and establishes the liabilities of different parties in the event of an accident.

The bill marks an important first step in the legalization of autonomous driving platforms, including Tesla’s full self-drive, which isn’t currently available in the UK market. 

Carmakers that have already developed autonomous driving systems and have an established presence in the country could be the first major beneficiaries of the new regulation. But the likes of Wayve and Waymo could soon follow with their own product launches.

Looking at the bigger picture, although the American robotaxi firm has a headstart thanks to its launch of self-driving cars in the US, Wayve’s rival software could soon start to compete.

Whereas the former relies on expensive high-definition mapping and custom, sensor-equipped vehicles, Wayve envisages  its platform as “a scalable and financially viable AI-driven solution” it can market to car makers. 

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