SFU professor leads the expansion of self-driving car startup Wayve to B.C.

May 10, 2024

By Deborah Acheampong


Simon Fraser University (SFU) computing science professor Yasutaka Furukawa is a world-renowned computer vision and machine learning specialist leading the expansion of self-driving car startup Wayve Technologies into Vancouver, B.C. Professor Furukawa’s role as a Principal Scientist at Wayve includes leading the Research and Development (R&D) initiatives, overseeing the integration and innovation of AI technologies in autonomous driving, and managing the team's growth and expansion strategies at the new Vancouver location.

Vancouver's pro-innovation environment makes it an ideal location for Wayve to enhance its research and development capabilities in artificial intelligence for self-driving cars. The expansion of the British startup to Vancouver marks the company’s second location in North America.

“Wayve’s expansion contributes to the field of embodied AI by focusing on developing autonomous systems that can learn and make decisions based on real-time environmental interactions,” says Yasutaka Furukawa. “The new R&D center in Vancouver will explore advanced algorithms that enable vehicles to operate safely and efficiently in complex, dynamic settings.”

Wayve aims to leverage Vancouver's rich tech ecosystem to advance its autonomous driving technologies. Besides enhancing the scalability and applicability of its AI technology, Wayve seeks to engage with the strong visual computing research presence in the Greater Vancouver area, notably with institutions like SFU and UBC. This engagement will include student internships, research collaborations, and full-time job opportunities, fostering a robust link between cutting-edge research and real-world automotive applications.

By focusing on cutting-edge research and development in AI and machine learning, and potentially collaborating with local academic institutions in Vancouver, Prof. Furukawa’s involvement helps transfer knowledge and innovation from academia to real-world applications in the autonomous vehicle industry, fostering a symbiotic relationship between the two sectors.

Vancouver's thriving tech ecosystem, its strategic location, and supportive policies provide a rich talent pool and collaboration opportunities with tech giants and startups alike. Wayve plans to harness these resources to enhance its AI-driven autonomous driving solutions, focusing on innovation and scalability to meet modern transportation challenges. Additionally, Wayve intends to establish academic collaborations with SFU and UBC, encompassing research collaborations, internships, and job positions.

“I am excited about the benefits of Wayve’s expansion to the SFU School of Computing Science and the university by extension,” says Furukawa. “The School can benefit through collaborative research opportunities and employment opportunities via internships and full-time job positions for graduates. The relationship can also elevate SFU's reputation in AI and technology studies on an international scale.”

Professor Yasutaka Furukawa is the first hire of Wayve in Vancouver. His expertise will be an invaluable addition to the vision and growth of Wayve in North America.