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Wayve raises $20 million to give autonomous cars better AI brains

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Wayve, a U.K.-based startup that's developing artificial intelligence (AI) that teaches cars to drive autonomously using reinforcement learning, simulation, and computer vision, has raised $20 million in a series A round of funding led by Palo Alto venture capital (VC) firm Eclipse Ventures, with participation from Balderton Capital, Compound Ventures, Fly Ventures, and First Minute Capital. Several notable angel investors also participated in the round, including Uber's chief scientist Zoubin Ghahramani and Pieter Abbeel, a UC Berkeley robotics professor and pioneer of deep reinforcement learning. Founded out of Cambridge, U.K., in 2017, Wayve's core premise is that the big breakthrough in self-driving cars will come from better AI brains rather than more sensors or "hand-coded" rules. The company said that it trains its autonomous driving system using simulated environments and then transfers that knowledge into the real world, where it emulates how humans adapt to conditions in real time. Wayve's systems learn from each safety driver intervention to understand why the driver had to intervene, bypassing HD maps, lidar, and other sensors that have become synonymous with the burgeoning autonomous vehicle movement.