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Velocity graduate’s self-driving car solution receives $20 million investment

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Wayve, a start-up dedicated to accelerating autonomous mobility through learning based approaches instead of hand-coded rules has received a $20M Series A funding round to launch a pilot fleet of autonomous vehicles in central London. The company was co-founded by University of Auckland alumnus Alex Kendall.

Wayve’s mission is to pioneer the intersection of artificial intelligence and mobile robotics using state-of-the-art research in machine learning, computer vision and reinforcement learning. Self-driving vehicles are their first commercial application. In Spring 2019, Wayve publicised an unprecedented achievement, demonstrating a self-driving car navigating on roads it had never previously driven before. A good human driver can quickly adapt to navigating a new jurisdiction, however existing autonomous solutions lack the requisite ability to detect and respond appropriately to potential hazards. By contrast, Wayve is committed to building a general and scalable driving brain applicable to any driving environment.

To date, self-driving vehicle testing has been carried out on highly structured and modern roads in USA and China. While these are “live” driving environments, such geographies lack the irregular, diverse and complex streets of most other global cities. Wayve has successfully begun on-road public autonomous driving trials supported by insurance partner, Admiral.

Wayve’s continuous innovations are helped by Kiwi ingenuity. Four of the core team are University of Auckland alumni – co-founder and CTO Alex Kendall, Head of People and Culture Carolin Fleissner, Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Hawke and Senior Simulation Engineer Andrew Willmott.

Alex says “I really do believe that the culture at the University of Auckland and my experience in the Velocity programme were formative for me to become an entrepreneur. I loved the things I learned through being involved with the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship”.

Alex believes that if you are considering an innovative and entrepreneurial pathway you need to “build something you are passionate about and surround yourself with the best people”.

Alex co-founded Wayve while working towards his PhD at the University of Cambridge, where he met co-founder and CEO Amar Shah. Cambridge, England is arguably the birthplace of modern computing and artificial intelligence. The team have recently relocated to London, and with new investment they are looking forward to the growth this will allow. This is the first time a European self-driving car company has attracted premier Silicon Valley venture capital funding to lead a Series A investment. The investment was led by Eclipse Ventures, with participation from Balderton Capital and existing investors Compound, Fly Ventures and firstminute capital as well as several undisclosed preeminent leaders in machine learning and robotics.

James Hutchinson
James Hutchinson

social media

Wayve, a start-up dedicated to accelerating autonomous mobility through learning based approaches instead of hand-coded rules has received a $20M Series A funding round to launch a pilot fleet of autonomous vehicles in central London. The company was co-founded by University of Auckland alumnus Alex Kendall.

Wayve’s mission is to pioneer the intersection of artificial intelligence and mobile robotics using state-of-the-art research in machine learning, computer vision and reinforcement learning. Self-driving vehicles are their first commercial application. In Spring 2019, Wayve publicised an unprecedented achievement, demonstrating a self-driving car navigating on roads it had never previously driven before. A good human driver can quickly adapt to navigating a new jurisdiction, however existing autonomous solutions lack the requisite ability to detect and respond appropriately to potential hazards. By contrast, Wayve is committed to building a general and scalable driving brain applicable to any driving environment.

To date, self-driving vehicle testing has been carried out on highly structured and modern roads in USA and China. While these are “live” driving environments, such geographies lack the irregular, diverse and complex streets of most other global cities. Wayve has successfully begun on-road public autonomous driving trials supported by insurance partner, Admiral.

Wayve’s continuous innovations are helped by Kiwi ingenuity. Four of the core team are University of Auckland alumni – co-founder and CTO Alex Kendall, Head of People and Culture Carolin Fleissner, Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Hawke and Senior Simulation Engineer Andrew Willmott.

Alex says “I really do believe that the culture at the University of Auckland and my experience in the Velocity programme were formative for me to become an entrepreneur. I loved the things I learned through being involved with the Business School’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship”.

Alex believes that if you are considering an innovative and entrepreneurial pathway you need to “build something you are passionate about and surround yourself with the best people”.

Alex co-founded Wayve while working towards his PhD at the University of Cambridge, where he met co-founder and CEO Amar Shah. Cambridge, England is arguably the birthplace of modern computing and artificial intelligence. The team have recently relocated to London, and with new investment they are looking forward to the growth this will allow. This is the first time a European self-driving car company has attracted premier Silicon Valley venture capital funding to lead a Series A investment. The investment was led by Eclipse Ventures, with participation from Balderton Capital and existing investors Compound, Fly Ventures and firstminute capital as well as several undisclosed preeminent leaders in machine learning and robotics.


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