U of T AI startup Waabi adding self-driving veterans in race to commercialize robot trucks

May 10, 2022 by Forbes Alan Ohnsman

Waabi, an autonomous driving startup led by computer scientist and U of T A&S Professor Raquel Urtasun, is staffing up with veteran engineers from competing self-driving tech companies as it prepares to go head-to-head with bigger players, including Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo and TuSimple in the race to commercialize robotic trucking.

The Toronto-based company, which initially focused on developing its AI-enabled technology with an advanced driving simulator it developed, is expanding to add a team of hardware engineers to integrate sensors, lidar, vision and computing systems into trucks as it shifts to real-world testing. Led by Eyal Cohen, who was previously with Uber ATG, Otto and Apple’s vehicle program, the Waabi’s new hardware team includes Jorah Wyer, who had worked for robot truck startup Ike, Uber ATG and Apple; and JD Wagner and Paul Spriesterbach, who both previously worked for autonomous tech developer Aurora.

“Our goal is to bring self-driving trucks to the world, and trucks are physical so you need a hardware team,” says founder and CEO Urtasun, who’s also a professor of computer science at the University of Toronto. “We will expand to other things like robotaxis or last-mile delivery, but right now Class-8 trucks is where you’re going to see our efforts.”

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