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Autonomous Vehicle Startup Waabi Closes $100M Series A Financing

June 18, 2021


Waabi is an autonomous vehicle (“AV”) startup based out of Toronto led by Raquel Urtasun, a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto, AI luminary, former Chief Scientist at Uber and co-founder of the Vector Institute for AI. Waabi recently closed its Series A financing round at over $100M, which is one of the largest initial financing totals raised by a Canadian startup. The financing round was led by Khosla Ventures; other investors included Uber, Aurora, OMERS Ventures, BDC’s Women in Technology Venture Fund, and AI experts such as Geoffrey Hinton.

Urtasun brings a wealth of experience and expertise to Waabi having spent 20 years working with AI and 10 years working with AV technology. While most mainstream automotive manufacturers are developing some kind of AV technology, Waabi’s approach is different in that it limits the need for road-testing by harnessing sophisticated simulation technology as well as a fully trainable platform capable of complex reasoning. In short, the technology, which is still in development, promises to supplement or replace road testing with simulations in order to train the AI that operates the vehicle, resulting in a safer and more affordable AV option.

The race to capture the AV market is well underway given that its anticipated value is US$325.9B by the end of 2030. Waabi plans to use its recent funding to support the development of their AV technology and continue to build their team. Urtasun plans to keep Waabi in Toronto as there is access to ample talent in the AI field locally and nationally, citing AI hubs like Montreal and Calgary, and other AI luminaries like Geoffrey Hinton, Richard Sutton, and Yoshua Bengio.

Author: Tommy Friedlich


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