Microsoft, Nvidia and SoftBank invest in AI start-up Wayve

  • May 13, 2024
  • Steve Rogerson

SoftBank has led a $1.05bn series C investment round for UK AI autonomous driving start-up Wayve with contributions from new investor Nvidia and existing investor Microsoft.

The money will be used to accelerate its mission to reimagine autonomous mobility through what it calls embodied artificial intelligence (AI).

Embodied AI integrates AI into vehicles and robots to transform how machines interact with, comprehend and learn from human behaviour in real-world environments. It is paving the way for greater usability and safety in autonomous driving systems.

Founded in 2017, Wayve ( is a pioneer in embodied AI for autonomous driving, having been the first to develop and test an end-to-end (E2E) deep learning autonomous driving system on public roads. Today, the company is building foundation models for autonomy, similar to a GPT for driving, that can empower any vehicle to see, think and drive through any environment. This has paved the way for an industry-wide shift towards AI, coined AV2.0.

This investment supports Wayve in developing and launching the first embodied AI products for production vehicles. As Wayve’s core AI model advances, these products will let OEMs efficiently upgrade cars to higher levels of driving automation, from L2+ assisted driving to L4 automated driving.

This holds potential to enhance the usability and safety of autonomous driving systems, empowering them with the intelligence to navigate situations that do not follow strict patterns or rules, such as unexpected actions by drivers, pedestrians or environmental elements.

Wayve has dedicated years of research and development to establishing itself in AV2.0. It has developed hardware-agnostic AI driving models for mapless autonomous driving and a suite of technologies, such as fleet learning, data infrastructure, evaluation and simulation platforms to enhance the AI models using real-world and simulated data.

By leveraging Wayve’s proprietary tools, OEMs and fleet owners can generate data assets that bridge the gap between raw data and unparalleled driving capabilities. Moreover, the company’s research on multimodal and generative models, known as Lingo and Gaia, is driving the automotive industry towards a future where AI in vehicles can offer features such as intuition, language-responsive interfaces, personalised driving styles, and co-piloting to enhance the automated driving experience.

“At Wayve, our vision is to develop autonomous technology that not only becomes a reality in millions of vehicles but also earns people’s trust by seamlessly integrating into their everyday lives to unlock extraordinary value,” said Alex Kendall, CEO of Wayve. “This significant funding milestone highlights our team’s unwavering conviction that embodied AI will address the long-standing challenges the industry has faced in scaling this technology to everyone, everywhere.”

Kentaro Matsui, managing partner at SoftBank and board member at Wayve, added: “AI is revolutionising mobility. Vehicles can now interpret their surroundings like humans, enabling enhanced decision-making that promises higher safety standards. The potential of this type of technology is transformative; it could eliminate 99% of traffic accidents.”

Wayve’s hardware-agnostic, mapless products allow OEMs to upgrade software in cars to higher levels of driving automation from eyes-on assisted driving to eyes-off fully automated driving as Wayve’s AI models progress. The company will also focus on scaling its foundation models, advancing embodied AI research, and building an AV2.0 platform with reliable simulation, measurement and active learning tools for automotive applications.

Finally, funds will enable Wayve to expand operations and partnerships in new markets, building geographically diverse data assets and attracting global talent.

“Wayve is pioneering new AI applications for the next-generation AV2.0 approach, built on Nvidia Drive Orin and Thor, which uses the new Nvidia Blackwell architecture designed for transformer, LLM and generative AI workloads,” said Rishi Dhall, vice president at Nvidia ( “Together, we can help enable self-driving vehicles that deliver the intelligence, dependability and skill of the best human drivers.”

Dominik Wee, corporate vice president at Microsoft (, added: “Microsoft is pleased to be working with Wayve to develop and deploy Wayve’s end-to-end AI autonomous driving products for automotive enterprise customers. By utilising Microsoft’s supercomputing capabilities and cloud computing technology, copilot-enabled developer platform, enterprise data management applications, and leading AI model commercialisation expertise, Wayve can deliver and scale innovative embodied AI that enables safer and more accessible autonomous driving experiences.”