Volvo Group Venture Capital Invests in Autonomous Tech Firm Waabi
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Volvo Group Venture Capital AB on Jan. 18 said it is investing in Canadian autonomous trucking technology company Waabi Innovation Inc.
Financial details of the transaction were not made public, but Volvo Group said it would have no significant impact on its earnings or financial position.
Volvo’s leadership said in a statement that its investment highlights the companies’ shared commitment to redefine the way freight is moved.
“Waabi is using advanced artificial intelligence technology to test, assess skills and ultimately teach a virtual driver to maneuver safely and efficiently in a commercial-ready autonomous trucking solution,” Volvo Group Venture Capital President Martin Witt said. “We are impressed by what they have accomplished and see that Volvo Group can add considerable strategic value to the development of their business and are currently exploring ways to cooperate.”
Volvo said it believes that going forward, fully autonomous trucks are one of the keys to provide additional capacity and improved safety and efficiency, and that this investment in artificial intelligence also will support drivers in tiresome routes.
“Partnerships and investments are key to commercializing autonomous transport solutions at scale,” Volvo Autonomous Systems President Nils Jaeger said. “We welcome Volvo Group’s decision to invest in companies like Waabi who are building the new transport ecosystem.”
Waabi Innovation was formed in 2021, and it said at the time its mission was to develop next-generation, artificial intelligence technology to solve autonomy at scale.
Exciting news in the field of #autonomoustransport. We are investing in @Waabi_ai that develops the next generation of autonomous trucking technology.
Find out more https://t.co/aiXLcSWaZj pic.twitter.com/UPv30HNbrg — Volvo Group (@VolvoGroup) January 18, 2023
The company recently unveiled Waabi Driver, which it says will be its core autonomous trucking solution designed for large-scale commercialization and safe deployment.
This solution is complemented by Waabi World, a scalable high-quality simulator, exposing Waabi Driver to the vast diversity of scenarios needed to hone its driving skills and paving the way to widespread adoption of autonomous trucking.
“Autonomy will one day transform trucking and logistics, but the self-driving industry has not solved this challenge, yet,” Waabi founder and CEO Raquel Urtasun said. “Our AI-first approach is the key to unlocking this reality at scale. Volvo Group’s investment in Waabi marks the next step in our journey, particularly around our shared commitment to safety.”
Volvo Group Venture Capital, founded in 1997, aims to drive transformation by facilitating the creation of new services and solutions and to support collaborations between startups and Volvo Group.
In a separate blog post produced by Volvo and Waabi and sent out with the media release announcing the financial relationship, the companies said they viewed Volvo Group’s relationship as a strategic investment in Waabi.
“We couldn’t be more excited to join the Volvo Group family. The trucking industry is facing unprecedented challenges with driver shortages, increased freight demand and long transit times,” the blog said. “Solving these challenges and shaping the future of scaled autonomous trucking requires best-in-class investors, technology providers and partners working together to build deeper, more transparent relationships with fleet and shipper customers to ultimately provide the product that meets their needs.
“As part of this investment, we will work with Volvo Group to explore ways to cooperate and unlock opportunities for global commercialization. Volvo Group will add considerable value through its industry network and strategic outlook to help our business development and accelerate deployment of our autonomous technology.”
Ultimately, the companies said they believe that autonomous trucks will make the highways and roads safer.
“We also share with Volvo Group a core belief and commitment to safety. This is evident through our differentiated approach to autonomy using our groundbreaking AI technology. For example, our revolutionary high-fidelity close loop simulator, Waabi World, uses AI to expose the self-driving ‘brain’ to the vast diversity of experiences needed to sharpen its driving skills,” the statement said.
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