Ocado Group has invested £10 million in Oxbotica, an autonomous vehicle software company, to collaborate on hardware and software interfaces for autonomous vehicles.
These would include everything from vehicles that operate inside of Ocado’s Customer Fulfilment Centre (‘CFC’) buildings and the yard areas that surround them, through to last-mile deliveries and kerb-to-kitchen robots.
Ultimately the aim is to also make it accessible to Ocado’s partners that use the Ocado Smart Platform (‘OSP’) to reduce the costs of last-mile delivery and other logistics operations.
The two companies have been working together since 2017, when they conducted a two-week trial using an early prototype delivery vehicle doing autonomous deliveries in Greenwich, London.
Oxbotica’s two core products are Selenium and Caesium. Selenium is an on-vehicle suite of software that brings full autonomy to a vehicle in a way that is agnostic to both hardware and environment. Caesium is a cloud-based autonomy management system that brings fine-grained control, audit, data management and monitoring to autonomous fleets.
The investment comes as part of Oxbotica’s latest Series B equity funding round. As part of this collaboration, Ocado will outfit a subset of its delivery vans and warehouse vehicles with data capture capabilities, which may include video cameras, LiDAR, RADAR and other sensing devices. Ocado will make this data available to Oxbotica to train and test its technologies, which will then inform Ocado as to what opportunities exist and where best it might take advantage of these exciting new partnerships.
Alex Harvey, chief of advanced technology at Ocado, said: “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.”