Uber, Khosla, Nvidia invest in $200 million funding round for autonomous trucking startup Waabi

Courtesy: Waabi
  • Autonomous trucking startup Waabi has raised $200 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round led by existing investors Uber and Khosla Ventures.
  • Nvidia is a new investor, with Porsche and the venture capital arm of Volvo also joining the deal.
  • The Toronto-based company expects to launch fully driverless trucks in 2025, and ultimately see its generative AI deployed in humanoid and warehouse robots.

Autonomous trucking startup Waabi announced Tuesday it has raised $200 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round led by existing investors Uber and Khosla Ventures. Waabi's latest funding round also includes Nvidia, a new investor in the company, as well as Porsche and the venture capital arm of Volvo.

Many firms are working on self-driving vehicles, but Toronto-based Waabi believes too many developers rely on people to think about everything that could go wrong on the road, using large fleets to test out scenarios. Using generative AI, Waabi has built a single AI system that is capable of reasoning, just as humans do, and that can come up with problems human minds couldn't conceptualize. Its closed-loop simulator, called Waabi World, automatically generates all the situations a self-driving vehicle might encounter in the real world, testing out issues without wasting resources and money building models that need to be driven for millions of miles on roads.

"A system like this has astounding abilities to generalize and handle the unknown, is more efficient to train, and its safety can be mathematically validated and verified," said Waabi founder & CEO Raquel Urtasun.

In September, Waabi's AI-powered software and sensors, Waabi Driver, began working with the Uber Freight logistics system to move shipments throughout the U.S. The 10-year partnership began in Dallas and Houston, but will expand to other locations in Texas and beyond.

Trucking is an integral part of the economy, representing over 70% of freight moved in the U.S., yet it is dogged by driver shortages, safety issues and supply chain challenges. Even as pandemic-related problems have subsided, the supply chain is far from optimal in terms of efficiency and trucking, in particular, continues to be a market where there is significant room to optimize loads. Many of these issues can be fixed through automation and other tech-driven solutions.

"Waabi is developing autonomous trucking by applying cutting-edge generative AI to the physical world. I'm excited to support Raquel's vision through our investment in Waabi, which is powered by Nvidia technology," Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said in a statement announcing the round.

In March, Waabi and Nvidia announced a partnership to use the chipmaker's vehicle computing platform DRIVE Thor for generative AI-powered self-driving applications. Nvidia's prominence as a venture investor has grown as more startups rely on AI chips, and it has made other recent investments in self-driving companies.

The new investor round brings Waabi's total funding to $280 million since being founded in 2021.

Urtasun, named a CNBC Changemaker in February, says the capital will be used to support the deployment of fully driverless, generative AI-powered autonomous trucks in 2025.

"This funding round gives us everything we need, both financially and strategically, to launch fully driverless trucks and accelerate our growth in 2025," Urtasun said.

Ultimately, Waabi expects applications for its AI beyond trucking, including humanoid and warehouse robots.

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