The Hamilton Spectator

British firm Wayve opening Vancouver office


The Microsoftb­acked startup aims to hire 10 researcher­s in Vancouver this year

British autonomous-driving startup Wayve Technologi­es Ltd. is opening a research centre in Vancouver, adding its second location in North America to accelerate its growth.

The company’s chief scientist Jamie Shotton, who previously helped to develop Microsoft Corp.’s body-tracking tool Kinect, will move from the U.K. to lead the R&D-focused office, Wayve’s third location after London and Mountain View, Calif.

“We are in a growth phase,” Shotton said. “It’s just about expanding our reach, expanding our access to talent.”

Going up against the likes of Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo, Wayve’s artificial intelligen­ce aims to learn driving rules and patterns by itself, rather than needing them to be programmed in, so it can intuit how to respond to new places and unpredicta­ble scenarios. The company’s route to market is to get automakers to integrate its software into their cars, Shotton said.

The expansion is a vote of confidence for Vancouver, an aspiring tech hub. A reasonable drive from Seattle, the Canadian city has major offices for the likes of Microsoft and Inc. as well as a healthy startup scene.

“Vancouver is obviously a very internatio­nal hub for North America, and highly attractive for businesses through favourable immigratio­n policies,” Shotton said. It has a “proinnovat­ion, pro-AI policy environmen­t that gives us the confidence to invest.”

The Vancouver office will hire about 10 researcher­s this year and expand from there, Shotton said.

U.K. filings show individual investors in Wayve include Meta Platforms Inc.’s chief AI scientist Yann LeCun and OpenAI co-founder and chief scientist Ilya Sutskever.

Last year, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates publicly tested the Wayve system in central London with Wayve co-founder Alex Kendall.

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