Waabi raises $200M from Uber, NVIDIA, and others on the road to self-driving trucks

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The Waabi Driver includes a generative AI stack as well as sensors and compute hardware.

The Waabi Driver includes a generative AI stack as well as sensors and compute hardware. Source: Waabi

Autonomous passenger vehicles have hit potholes over the past few years, with accidents leading to regulatory scrutiny, but investment in self-driving trucks has continued. Waabi today announced that it has raised $200 million in an oversubscribed Series B round. The funding brings total investment in the Toronto-based startup to more than $280 million.

Waabi said that it “is on the verge of Level 4 autonomy” and that it expects to deploy fully autonomous trucks in Texas next year. The company claimed that it has been able to advance quickly toward that goal because of its use of generative artificial intelligence in the physical world.

“I have spent most of my professional life dedicated to inventing new AI technologies that can deliver on the enormous potential of AI in the physical world in a provably safe and scalable way,” stated Raquel Urtasun, a professor at the University of Toronto and founder and CEO of Waabi.

“Over the past three years, alongside the incredible team at Waabi, I have had the chance to turn these breakthroughs into a revolutionary product that has far surpassed my expectations,” she added. “We have everything we need — breakthrough technology, an incredible team, and pioneering partners and investors — to launch fully driverless autonomous trucks in 2025. This is monumental for the industry and truly marks the beginning of the next frontier for AI.”

Waabi uses generative AI to reduce on-road testing

Waabi said it is pioneering generative AI for the physical world, starting with applying the technology to self-driving trucks. The company said it has developed “a single end-to-end AI system that is capable of human-like reasoning, enabling it to generalize to any situation that might happen on the road, including those it has never seen before.”

Because of that ability to generalize, the system requires significantly less training data and compute resources in comparison with approaches to autonomy, asserted Waabi. In addition, the company claimed that its system is fully interpretable and that its safety can be validated and verified.

The company said Copilot4D, its “end-to-end AI system, paired with Waabi World, the world’s most advanced simulator, reduces the need for extensive on-road testing and enables a safer, more efficient solution that is highly performant and scalable from Day 1.”

Several industry observers have pointed out that self-driving trucks will likely arrive on public roads before widespread deployments of robotaxis in the U.S. While Waymo has pumped the brakes on development, other companies have made progress, including Inceptio, FERNRIDE, Kodiak Robotics, and Aurora.

At the same time, work on self-driving cars continues, with Wayve raising $1.05 billion last month and TIER IV obtaining $54 million. General Motors invested another $850 million in Cruise yesterday.

“Self-driving technology is a prime example of how AI can dramatically improve our lives,” said AI luminary Geoff Hinton. “Raquel and Waabi are at the forefront of innovation, developing a revolutionary approach that radically changes the way autonomous systems work and leads to safer and more efficient solutions.”

Waabi plans to expand its commercial operations and grow its team in Canada and the U.S. The company cited recent accomplishments, including the opening of its new Texas AV trucking terminal, a collaboration with NVIDIA to integrate NVIDIA DRIVE Thor into the Waabi Driver, and its ongoing partnership with Uber Freight. It has run autonomous shipments for Fortune 500 companies and top-tier shippers in Texas.

Copilot4D predicts future LiDAR point clouds from a history of past LiDAR observations, akin to how LLMs predict the next word given the preceding text. We design a 3 stage architecture that is able to exploit all the breakthroughs in LLMs to bring the first 4D foundation model.

Copilot4D predicts future lidar point clouds from a history of past observations, similar to how large language models (LLMs) predict the next word given the preceding text. Source: Waabi

Technology leaders invest in self-driving trucks

Waabi noted that top AI, automotive, and logistics enterprises were among its investors. Uber and Khosla Ventures led Waabi’s Series B round. Other participants included NVIDIA, Volvo Group Venture Capital, Porsche Automobil Holding, Scania Invest, and Ingka Investments.

“Waabi is developing autonomous trucking by applying cutting-edge generative AI to the physical world,” said Jensen Huang, founder and CEO of NVIDIA. “I’m excited to support Raquel’s vision through our investment in Waabi, which is powered by NVIDIA technology. I have championed Raquel’s pioneering work in AI for more than a decade. Her tenacity to solve the impossible is an inspiration.”

Additional support came from HarbourVest Partners, G2 Venture Partners, BDC Capital’s Thrive Venture Fund, Export Development Canada, Radical Ventures, Incharge Capital, and others.

“We are big believers in the potential for autonomous technology to revolutionize transportation, making a safer and more sustainable future possible,” added Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber. “Raquel is a visionary in the field, and under her leadership, Waabi’s AI-first approach provides a solution that is extremely exciting in both its scalability and capital efficiency.”

Vinod Khosla, founder of Khosla Ventures, said: “Change never comes from incumbents but from the innovation of entrepreneurs that challenge the status quo. Raquel and her team at Waabi have done exactly that with their products and business execution. We backed Waabi very early on with the bet that generative AI would transform transportation and are thrilled to continue on this journey with them as they move towards commercialization.”

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