Waymo is acquiring Latent Logic, an Oxford, UK-based technology company, spun out of Oxford University’s Department of Computer Science.
Latent Logic uses a form of machine learning, called imitation learning, to develop realistic simulations of the behavior of motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians to help autonomous vehicles coexist and interact safely with humans in the real world, at scale.
Professor Mike Woolridge, Head of Department of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, said: 'Congratulations to Waymo on the acquisition of Latent Logic, and congratulations to Shimon Whiteson and all at Latent Logic on this exciting new chapter in the company's story. This is yet another confirmation of Oxford's incredible strengths in machine learning, AI, and driverless car technology. We very much look forward to welcoming Waymo to Oxford, and to working with them in the future.'
The company’s two founders (Shimon Whiteson and João Messias) and CEO (Kirsty Lloyd-Jukes) will join Waymo, along with key members of the engineering and technical team. The team will remain in Oxford and join Waymo’s Research efforts.
The Latent Logic team's expertise in reinforcement learning and imitation learning can help further accelerate Waymo's progress in areas from simulation to behavior prediction and planning. By leveraging cutting-edge machine learning techniques, Waymo will be able to scale more easily to complex and diverse environments.
This acquisition also signals the creation of Waymo’s first European engineering hub, in Oxford, UK, which is at the cutting-edge of global machine learning and robotics research.
Shimon Whiteson said: 'By joining Waymo, we are taking a big leap towards realizing our ambition of safe, self-driving vehicles. In just two years, we have made significant progress in using imitation learning to simulate real human behaviors on the road. I’m excited by what we can now achieve in combining this expertise with the talent, resources and progress Waymo have already made in self-driving technology. We’re proud to have started in Oxford and to now be part of Waymo’s first European engineering hub in the UK, surrounded by such amazing talent and entrepreneurship in machine learning, robotics, and autonomous vehicles.'