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Microsoft, Virgin back British AV startup Wayve

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Article ImageFormer DeepMind researchers and Tesla software engineers are among its ranks

Wayve, the British autonomous vehicle (AV) startup, has raised $200 million in series B funding, securing financing from Microsoft, Virgin and Ocado.

The London-based developer plans to use the newly secured capital to grow its team, scale deployments, and develop a self-driving prototype for passenger vehicles.

“We have all of the pieces in place to take what we have pioneered and drive AV2.0 forward,” said Alex Kendall, co-founder and CEO of Wayve.

Wayve’s technology revolves around what it calls AV2.0, a camera-first approach with embedded AI systems that continually learns from driving data, making it less reliant on networks like 5G. The company considers this concept to be more adaptable for fleet operators than traditional AV methods.

“We have brought together world-class strategic partners in transportation, grocery delivery and compute, along with the best capital resources to scale our core autonomy platform, trial products with our commercial fleet partners and build the infrastructure to scale AV2.0 globally.

AV2.0: a camera-first approach

Wayve was founded in 2017 and secured commercial partnerships with British supermarket chain Asda, which was owned by Walmart until last year, and Ocado, the online grocery chain, which has its own AV plans. Both firms conducted autonomous delivery trials with Wayve.

The startup’s latest funding brings its total capital raised to $258 million.

Company backers include Sir Richard Branson, the British business magnate, Rosemary Leith, co-founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and her husband, Tim Berners-Lee, and Hertz board chair Linda Levinson.

Eclipse Ventures, a previous investor, led the round, with Baillie Gifford, D1 Capital Partners and Balderton Capital joining.

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