Wayve, an A.I. Start-Up for Autonomous Driving, Raises $1 Billion

Wayve, a London maker of artificial intelligence systems for autonomous vehicles, said on Tuesday that it had raised $1 billion, an eye-popping sum for a European start-up and an illustration of investor optimism about A.I.’s ability to reshape industries.

SoftBank, the Japanese conglomerate that backed Uber and other tech companies, was the lead investor, along with Microsoft and Nvidia. Previous investors in Wayve include Yann LeCun, Meta’s chief A.I. scientist.

Wayve, which had previously raised about $300 million, did not disclose its valuation after the investment.

Wayve was co-founded in 2017 by Alex Kendall, a Cambridge University doctorate student focused on computer vision and robotics. Unlike generative A.I. models, which create humanlike text and images and are being developed by OpenAI, Google and Anthropic, the so-called embodied A.I. systems made by Wayve serve as the brains for physical objects, be they cars, robots or manufacturing systems. The A.I. allows a machine to make real-time decisions on its own.

“The full potential of A.I. is when we have machines that are in the physical world that we can trust,” Mr. Kendall said.

Companies focused on autonomous driving are facing a bumpy period. The technology is expensive and difficult to build and faces intense regulatory scrutiny. Cruise, the General Motors self-driving subsidiary, removed its driverless cars from the road last year amid safety and legal concerns. Apple recently abandoned its self-driving car efforts after years of development.

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