AI Company Secures $200M to Develop Self-Driving Trucks

Waabi’s technology uses an end-to-end AI system that is ‘capable of reasoning like humans’

Graham Hope

June 19, 2024

2 Min Read
A Waabi self-driving truck

Canadian AI company Waabi has announced new funding of $200 million as it works towards putting self-driving trucks on the road next year.

The oversubscribed series B round was led by Uber and Silicon Valley-based Khosla Ventures, and included respected names such as Nvidia, Porsche and Volvo.

The new funding takes the total investment in the Toronto start-up to $280 million in just three years and brings it a step closer to its target of deploying generative AI-powered fully driverless trucks in Texas in 2025.

Waabi’s progress is all the more noteworthy given that there have been some major casualties in the autonomous trucking arena over the past couple of years, such as Embark, which shut down, and TuSimple, which pulled out of the U.S.

The company attributes its success to what it describes as its “revolutionary approach to unleashing generative AI in the physical world.”
This approach comes via a single, end-to-end AI system that the company claims is capable of reasoning in the same way that humans are and can envisage problems that even the human mind cannot come up with.

This focus on AI differs significantly from the route many other self-driving tech developers are taking, which involves humans pre-determining potential problematic scenarios and then deploying fleets to the road to see how they cope with these situations. 

Related:Renault Unveils Robot-Run Fully Automated Logistics Site

It is a similar outlook, though, to that of U.K.-based Wayve, another AI company that has secured massive funding ($1 billion) in 2024 as it seeks to develop tech that can power self-driving vehicles.

According to Waabi, the focus on AI brings some key benefits. For a start, its system requires much less training data and compute resources. Waabi also says its tech is fully interpretable and can be validated and verified. 

When paired with the firm’s Waabi World closed loop simulator, it reduces the need for on-road testing and enables a safe scalable solution, speeding up and cutting the cost of the development process.

Raquel Urtasun, founder and CEO of Waabi, explained: “Waabi World automatically generates all the situations a self-driving vehicle might encounter in the real world and tests the entire autonomy system with near-zero domain gap. This means that the AI system under test should drive exactly the same way in simulation as it would in the real world when presented with the same situation.”

As well as facilitating the launch of driverless operations in Texas, the funding will also be used to expand operations elsewhere. The company’s Waabi Driver tech is already being used on autonomous trucks, with safety drivers, on public roads in Texas, where it also recently opened a new terminal as a hub for operations.

Related:Hyundai Reveals Self-Driving Fuel Cell Truck

Urtasun added: “This is monumental for the industry and truly marks the beginning of the next frontier for AI.”

About the Author(s)

Graham Hope

Graham Hope has worked in automotive journalism in the U.K. for 26 years, including spells as editor of leading consumer news website and weekly Auto Express and respected buying guide CarBuyer.

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