Engineering alum Alex Kendall’s AI start-up Wayve raises $1.7b

Wayve's funding will be used to develop and launch the first “embodied AI” technology for self-driving vehicles.

Engineering graduate Alex Kendall
Wayve, a London-based start-up, is led by engineering graduate Alex Kendall.

Wayve, an artificial intelligence start-up co-founded by University of Auckland engineering alumnus Alex Kendall, has raised US$1.05 billion ($1.7b) to develop its cutting-edge technology for self-driving vehicles.

The funding for the London head-quartered company’s Series C was led by Japanese venture capital firm SoftBank Group, as well as technology companies Microsoft and NVIDIA – and will be used to develop and launch the first “embodied AI” technology for self-driving vehicles.

In contrast to cognitive AI models, which simulate human-like text and images and are under development by tech companies like OpenAI and Google, Wayve's embodied AI equips robotic systems, such as automated vehicles, with the ability to interact with and learn from their surroundings, enhancing the usability and safety of assisted and automated driving systems.

Wayve’s software utilises cameras, sensors and other technology to equip self-driving vehicles to make real-time decisions by actively learning from and engaging with their real-world surroundings.

“This investment will help us launch our embodied AI products and expand our operations globally. It sends a crucial signal to the market of the strength of the UK’s AI ecosystem, and we look forward to watching more AI companies here thrive and scale,” Alex told The Guardian.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) in mechatronics engineering, Alex completed his PhD at Trinity College Cambridge in deep learning, computer vision and robotics. He co-founded Wayve in 2017, which has grown to 300 employees.

He was a University of Auckland 40 Under 40 awardee in 2020 and made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Self-driving vehicles are “the space race of my generation”, he said in 2020, “and will completely change society”.

He added: “The ability to move is so central to our happiness, and self-driving cars will make this safe, sustainable, accessible and efficient.”

Media contact

Hussein Moses | Media adviser
M: 027 361 1000