A Cambridge-based start-up believes machine learning software is the key to autonomous vehicles and Wayve is developing machine learning algorithms for autonomous vehicles. Wayve, which includes the chief scientist at Uber amongst its investors, believes the industry has been doing too much hand-engineering and too little machine learning. The firm is hiring for positions in its Cambridge-based headquarters. "The missing piece of the self-driving puzzle is intelligent algorithms, not more sensors, rules and maps. Humans have a fascinating ability to perform complex tasks in the real world, because our brains allow us to learn quickly and transfer knowledge across our many experiences.
Why weigh down a self-driving car with a lot of sensors, HD maps, and equipment when you don't have to? It claims it only needs a camera, GPS tracker, and a powerful computer to be able to drive anywhere autonomously. But experts who specialize in sensing technologies like light-based LiDAR and radar say the idea mostly comes across as preposterous -- or the very least, short-sighted. Most self-driving cars decide how to drive down a street as it happens -- picking up information about debris in the way, pedestrians on the sidewalk, the sun starting to set in the distance. Wayve doesn't try to interpret that much data since it can't really pick up much from its cameras.
Self-driving cars currently need a lot of hand-holding to get around, with even Waymo's machines relying on lidar, custom rules and highly detailed maps to know exactly where to go. Wayve, however, wants driverless vehicles with more independence. It just showed a prototype autonomous vehicle (a modified Renault Twizy) driving around Cambridge, UK using only cameras and basic GPS directions from a phone. It had never seen the roads before, and was only running on 20 hours of training data -- it didn't even know to drive on the left side of the road or to slow down at intersections where it didn't have the right of way. The trick, according to Wayve, is the approach to the driving AI.
As Elon Musk made clear Monday, the technology most of his competitors in the self-driving car space use to help vehicles detect what's around them is lame. And his option is way better. "LiDAR is a fool's errand," he quipped about the laser-emitting tool that, in the simplest terms, acts as eyes for autonomous cars. "Anyone who is relying on LiDAR is doomed." That's pretty much most of the businesses testing self-driving cars, including Waymo and Uber who went to court over LiDAR technology last year.
A UK-based start-called up Wayve has just raised 20 million dollars and is preparing to test its fleet of driverless cars in London. Investors have come on board in support of the company's vision which opts for artificial intelligence over systems based on sensors on the vehicle. Wayve, a London-based start-up founded in 2017 and specialising in algorithms for driverless cars, has just raised 20 million dollars in a second round of financing, website VentureBeat reports. The first round had already brought in 3.1 million dollars from investors. A number of business angels have joined forces with Wayve, including Zoubin Ghahramani who is head of research at Uber, and university expert in deep reinforcement learning Pieter Abbeel.