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Brit driverless car firm raises $1bn in Europe’s biggest AI deal to date

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BRITAIN’S hopes of rivalling Silicon Valley were boosted yesterday as a driverless car company raised $1billion (£790million) from investors.

The cash injection into Wayve, the biggest to date in a European AI start-up, brings self-driving cars closer to reality.

British driverless car firm Wayve has raised $1bn  in Europe’s biggest AI deal to date

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British driverless car firm Wayve has raised $1bn in Europe’s biggest AI deal to dateCredit: Tim Andrew
Wayve has developed AI algorithms which analyse real-life driving scenarios

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Wayve has developed AI algorithms which analyse real-life driving scenariosCredit: Supplied

Wayve has developed AI algorithms which analyse real-life driving scenarios to control a vehicle’s steering wheel, throttle, indicators and brakes.

Its technology can be retrofitted to cars that are already in production.

The company, based in King’s Cross, North London, was founded in 2017 by Cambridge University graduate Alex Kendall in a garage.

It already works with Asda, delivering groceries to 4,000 households in London with self-driving vans.

Under current regulations, the vans still need a safety driver, but they can be operated “hands-free”.

Mr Kendall has not set a timeframe for launching driverless cars for the public but said the investment — from Japan’s Softbank, US chipmaker Nvidia and Microsoft — would help it to bring “this technology to everyone, everywhere”.

The investment was welcomed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak yesterday, who described it as a “vote of confidence in the UK economy”.

In another boost for British tech, energy supplier Octopus Energy, which licenses its Kraken software around the world, was yesterday valued at $9billion (£7.16billion) — 15 per cent more than last year.

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MORE LAYOFFS AT SELFRIDGES

SELFRIDGES is cutting more jobs in a fresh round of redundancies, just nine months after its last layoffs.

In a memo to staff seen by The Sun, chief executive Andrew Keith blamed the end of tax-free shopping for tourists and a slowdown in luxury spending.

Selfridges is cutting more jobs in a fresh round of redundancies, just nine months after its last layoffs

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Selfridges is cutting more jobs in a fresh round of redundancies, just nine months after its last layoffsCredit: Alamy

Retailers have lobbied the Government to bring back VAT-free shopping for overseas spenders.

They say visitors are choosing other European cities which offer tax-free incentives over London.

Selfridges’ latest accounts show it made a loss of £125million last year — and industry figures reveal spending at department stores has continued to slide.

Mr Keith said in the staff memo “we cannot ignore the external headwinds” as he revealed plans to axe around 100 of Selfridges staff, or 2 per cent.

He also hinted that Selfridges would be shifting investment away from online as internet shopping has waned after lockdowns.

“The huge growth in online luxury that was widely forecast post- Covid has not materialised at the pace expected . . . we recognise a need to reprioritise our tech and digital roadmap,” the memo said.

The department store group said shop staff would not be affected but other areas, including sustainability divisions, would bear the brunt

DISNEY’S SCREEN CUT PLAN

DISNEY plans to reduce the number of films and TV series it makes each year, to address its string of box office flops.

Boss Bob Iger yesterday said the company is “working hard with the studio to reduce output and focus more on quality”.

Disney plans to reduce the number of films and TV series it makes each year

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Disney plans to reduce the number of films and TV series it makes each yearCredit: AP

He said: “That’s particularly true with Marvel.”

Last year, Marvel movies such as the latest Ant-Man and The Marvels, had disappointing returns.

A return to form is hoped for with Deadpool & Wolverine later this year.

Shares in Disney tumbled by almost 10 per cent yesterday after its TV subscriptions disappointed investors.

Some 153.6million were signed up to Disney+ in the second quarter, below the 155million shareholders wanted.

The blow was despite Disney toasting the fact its streaming platform had made maiden profits of £37million earlier than expected.

BP’S FALL IN PROFIT

FALLING oil and gas prices have knocked BP’s profits below expectations, prompting the boss to ramp up cost-cutting.

The energy giant posted profits of £2.2billion, down from £4.9billion last year and below £2.3billion City forecasts.

Boss Murray Auchincloss said he will cut costs by £1.5billion within the next two years. BP is still spending £1.3billion in share buybacks.

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