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Oxa launches commercial self-driving bus in Florida

Image credit: Oxa

Autonomous vehicle company Oxa has deployed its first commercial product in a passenger shuttle service in Florida, US.

Founded in 2014 as Oxbotica, the company develops software for self-driving vehicles. Having raised £115m in a Series C round last year that included Google, the company has now launched its first commercial offering.

Oxa Driver software will support the launch of the driverless service in the US, operated by American shuttle provider Beep in partnership with the Jacksonville Transport Authority and the Florida State College at Jacksonville.

The driverless service will still include trained safety attendants. Oxa said this was to boost confidence and trust as passengers get used to the self-driving experience.

Oxa CEO Gavin Jackson said the autonomous vehicle market was seeing the “number of innovators” shrinking in a “battle of business and technology models”.

A rollout of driverless cars made by Google-backed firm Waymo in California was recently paused due to a series of accidents.

Jackson said self-driving technology would not be “commercially viable in cars or taxis for a decade” and so his focus is on “the mass movement of people and goods”.

“These sectors suffer from severe driver shortages yet they also offer huge public and business benefits if they can be enhanced – and autonomy can do that in a cost-effective way now,” Jackson added.

Oxa said its Florida rollout made it the first British company to export self-driving software into the global market.

“Deploying Oxa Driver in passenger shuttles playing a key role in a community’s regeneration is momentous,” said Oxa founder and CTO, Prof Paul Newman.

“When I started Oxa in 2014, my vision was that autonomous vehicles should be a noticeable force for good, not only improving driving safety but also in elevating possibilities for people.”

The company said the initial rollout will be followed by seven more planned in cities across the US and UK in 2024.