UK online grocery retailer Ocado is to invest £10m in autonomous vehicle software firm Oxbotica to help develop tech for self-driving vans.
The investment forms part of Oxbotica’s latest Series B equity funding round, which includes other financial investors in the US, China, UK and Australia.
The purpose of this partnership is to collaborate on hardware and software interfaces for autonomous vehicles, enhancing and integrating Oxbotica’s autonomy software platform into a variety of vehicles.
These will range from vehicles that operate inside of Ocado’s Customer Fulfilment Centre buildings and the yard areas that surround them, all the way to last-mile deliveries and kerb-to-kitchen robots.
As part of this collaboration, Ocado will equip some of its delivery vans and warehouse vehicles with data capture capabilities, which may include video cameras, LiDAR, RADAR and other sensing devices. This data will be made available to Oxbotica to train and test its technologies.
The work builds on the firms’ existing relationship started in 2017 with a two-week trial using an early prototype delivery vehicle doing autonomous deliveries in Greenwich, London.
The initial development work will focus on UK operations, and will then extend to international markets where Ocado’s partners operate.
Alex Harvey, chief of advanced technology at Ocado, commented: “We are excited about the opportunity to work with Oxbotica to develop a wide range of autonomous solutions that truly have the potential to transform both our and our partners’ CFC and service delivery operations, while also giving all end customers the widest range of options and flexibility.”