In a Series B fundraising round led by investors, the British independent vehicle company Wayve secured $200 million to develop its technology and establish relationships with commercial fleets. Wayve was founded in 2012 and is based in Cambridge, England. With its Robo-delivery and logistics services, Wayve hopes to become a key player in the industry.
It has now raised a total of $258 million for its technology, which is based primarily on commodity video cameras around the vehicle that are linked to on-vehicle artificial intelligence-driven software, allowing it to be highly responsive to its surroundings while requiring less connectivity to 4G or 5G networks than competing technologies.
The financing was headed by Eclipse Ventures, which has previously invested. Among the other participants are early-stage investors Compound and Balderton Capital and D1 Capital Partners, Baillie Gifford, Moore Strategic Ventures, Linse Capital, and Microsoft and Virgin, among others. Among those who have invested include Ocado Group, a strategic investor, and angel investors such as Sir Richard Branson and Rosemary Leith, David Richter and Pieter Abbeel, and Yann LeCun.
Wayve CEO Alex Kendall claims that the company’s test cars have been able to navigate not just London effectively but also places where the company’s vehicles have never before traveled. This is no small effort, considering that most British streets have a medieval layout.
Formerly, Ocado, a U.K.-based online grocery technology business, spent $13.6 million in Wayve and went into an independent delivery experiment with the startup, which British supermarket giant Asda also joined.
With its AV2.0 technology, Wayve claims to have created a solution tailored to the needs of fleet operators, combining a camera-first approach with integrated artificial intelligence that continuously learns from driving data supplied by other Wayve partner fleets. According to the firm, this makes it a more scalable AV platform than the so-called “AV1,0,” which needs a large amount of input from data outside the car, such as traffic reports, street maps, and a complicated array of sensors other things.
“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 more quickly,” said Seth Winterroth partner at Eclipse Ventures.
“I believe this fundraising round is a signal from the market that we have earned the right to expand and be commercially deployed, rather than just proving out the fundamental technology,” Kendall said in an interview with TechCrunch. When we established the company in 2017, autonomous cars were at the pinnacle of their hype cycle, with billions of dollars already spent. “Everyone assumed it would be a year away.”
In addition, launching a contrarian business to fight against trillion-dollar technology behemoths may have seemed a little insane at the time. However, the proof points have enabled us to go to the next level of scale… This is our capacity to test in several different cities simultaneously. In addition to all of our commercial partners and the tremendous talent that we’ve been able to bring to our team, the fact that we’ve trained a system in London and expanded it across the United Kingdom in Manchester, Coventry, Leeds, Liverpool, and everywhere else in the United Kingdom.”