Volvo invests in Toronto driverless vehicle startup Waabi

Volvo AB’s venture capital arm has invested an undisclosed amount in Toronto autonomous-vehicle startup Waabi Innovation Inc…

Prof. Urtasun, a University of Toronto professor renowned as one of the leading researchers in the field, was previously chief scientist at Uber Technologies Inc.’s self-driving division. She left with most of her 40-person team in early 2021 to start Waabi after U.S. autonomous-vehicle startup Aurora Innovation Inc. bought the unit. Both Uber and Aurora invested in Waabi, alongside U.S. and Canadian venture capitalists and AI luminaries including Geoffrey Hinton, when it raised US$83.5-million two years ago.

Waabi has developed an AI-powered simulator that Prof. Urtasun says will more rapidly and safely teach autonomous-vehicle (AV) systems to operate vehicles better than humans. Her system is like a driving school for robots run by another robot, as the simulator recreates the driving experience and challenges an AV driver’s weaknesses with scenarios so it learns faster.