Waabi sets out to build path to commercially viable and scalable autonomous driving
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With $ 83.5 million in Series A funding, Waabi to usher in the next generation of autonomous driving technology
TORONTO, Jun 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Waabi, founded by AI pioneer and visionary Raquel Urtasun, took a stealthy leap today to create the next generation of autonomous driving technologies. Waabi’s innovative approach unleashes the power of AI to ‘drive’ safely in the real world, bringing the promise of autonomous driving closer than ever to commercialization.
Waabi also today announced $ 83.5 million (USD) Series A funding with the support of leading investors in technology, logistics and the Canadian innovation ecosystem. . The round, which is among the largest Series A rounds ever held in Canada, was led by Khosla Ventures with additional participation from Uber, Radical Ventures, 8VC, OMERS Ventures, BDC Capital’s Women in Technology Venture Fund (WIT) , Aurora Innovation Inc., AI luminaries Geoffrey Hinton, Fei-Fei Li, Pieter Abbeel, Sanja Fidler and others.
“Autonomous driving is one of the most exciting and important technologies of our generation. When solved on a large scale, it will change the world as we know it, ”said Founder and CEO Raquel Urtasun. “Waabi is the culmination of my life’s work to bring commercially viable autonomous driving technology to society and I am honored to be joined by a team of extraordinary scientists, engineers and technologists who are also committed to bringing implement this bold vision. “
Since the first DARPA Grand Challenge in 2004, the autonomous driving industry has made significant progress, but commercial deployment is still limited to very simple and small operational areas. The traditional approach to autonomous vehicle engineering results in a software stack that does not take full advantage of the power of AI and requires complex and time-consuming manual tuning. This makes scaling expensive and technically difficult, especially when it comes to solving less frequent and more unpredictable driving scenarios.
Building on the lessons of the past two decades, Waabi approaches autonomous driving in a new way. The company’s revolutionary, AI-driven approach, developed by a team of world-renowned technologists, leverages deep learning, probabilistic inference, and complex optimization to create software that can be trained from start to finish, interpretable and capable of very complex reasoning. This, together with a revolutionary closed-loop simulator with an unprecedented level of fidelity, enables large-scale testing of common driving scenarios and extreme safety cases. This approach dramatically reduces the need to travel test miles in the real world and results in a safer and more affordable solution.
“Waabi is bringing something radically new to the autonomous driving space,” said Sven Strohband, CEO of Khosla Ventures. “With a dream team that has been at the forefront of innovation in the industry and a differentiated AI-driven approach, Waabi is well positioned to lead the next generation of autonomous driving technologies and we are delighted to bring them to life. support in this journey. “
“Raquel is truly one of a kind – a tenacious and inspiring leader who empowers those around her to excel,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber. “I can’t wait to see what she does for the autonomous driving industry.”
“We believe that diversity fuels innovation and we are committed to supporting women-led technology companies that have the potential for global change,” said Michelle Scarborough, Managing Partner, Strategic Investments and Women in Tech Venture Fund, at BDC Capital. “Raquel Urtasun is a pioneer in the field of autonomous driving, who will use her unparalleled skills, unparalleled experience and in-depth knowledge to build the future. We are so proud to stand up for his team and partner with them as they make Waabi a global leader. “
Building a world-class team in the Toronto tech hub
Toronto’s tech industry has grown rapidly in recent years. In 2020, the city was ranked # 4 out of 50 markets in North America for talent and tech opportunities with a tech talent labor pool of 250,000, according to CBRE 2020 Scoring Tech Talent survey. This growing market is supported by a strong network of world-class universities like the University of Toronto, an institution known for its AI acumen.
The Waabi team, based in Toronto and California and led by Urtasun, professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Toronto and co-founder of the Vector Institute for AI, is considered to be at the forefront of the innovation in the autonomous driving industry, on a global scale. The team will initially focus on deploying Waabi’s software in logistics, particularly long-haul trucking, an industry where autonomous driving technology is expected to have the greatest and fastest impact due to a shortage. chronicle of pervasive drivers and safety issues.
As the business grows, Toronto will remain a critical hub for software development and testing as well as for scaling its team.
“Raquel is an international star and extraordinary talent,” said John Tory, Mayor of Toronto. “I am honored but not surprised that she chose Toronto as the location for her latest groundbreaking company. Toronto has world-class technological talent and is home to some of the most exciting AI research conducted today. Waabi will thrive here and I look forward to continuing to partner with Raquel and his team as they grow and progress in realizing the full potential of autonomous driving technology.
“Canada is a leader in advanced technologies such as AI and autonomous vehicles. Canadian universities, researchers and entrepreneurs are among the best in the world in these fields, ”said François-Philippe Champagne, Canadian Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry. “With the launch of Waabi, led by Raquel Urtasun, we see that Canada continues to be at the forefront of innovation in this sector. I am proud to see this team grow and create good jobs here in Canada.
“Waabi reflects incredible momentum in the AI ecosystem and strengthens Canada’s position as a hotbed of world-class talent,” said Jordan Jacobs, Managing Partner at Radical Ventures. “We are proud to strengthen our long-standing relationship with Raquel and support Waabi’s work to change the world for the better.
“Ontario is home to a world-class technology and innovation sector, including AI technologies. The launch of Waabi, under the leadership of world-renowned AI leader Raquel Urtasun, is another exciting addition to the region, ”said Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board, Minister of Finance and Minister responsible digital and data transformation. “Building a digital economy powered by trusted AI is a key part of our plan to make Ontario a leading digital jurisdiction, deliver simpler services and people, and create high-tech jobs across the country. modern world today.
Waabi, founded by AI pioneer and visionary Raquel Urtasun, is an AI company building the next generation of autonomous driving technologies. With a world-class team and an innovative approach that unleashes the power of AI to ‘drive’ safely in the real world, Waabi is bringing the promise of autonomous driving closer than ever to commercialization. Waabi is backed by leading investors in the Canadian technology, logistics and innovation ecosystem, including Khosla Ventures, Uber, 8VC, Radical Ventures, OMERS Ventures and the Women in Technology Venture Fund of BDC Capital. To learn more, visit: www.waabi.ai