Ocado invests £10M in Oxford startup Oxbotica to develop range of autonomous vehicles

ocado Image credits: Ocado

The Ocado Group, a leading UK-based online grocery platform and solutions provider announced the partnership with the Oxford-based startup Oxbotica to develop a range of autonomous vehicles. The company has invested $13.8 million (nearly £10 million) and bought stake in the startup that develops autonomous driving systems.

Part of Series B investment

This investment from Ocado is a part of Oxbotica’s latest Series B equity funding round. The round was led by bp ventures and included other strategic and financial investors in the US, the UK, China and Australia including Tencent, Halma, BGF, HostPlus, IP Group, Venture Science, and funds advised by Doxa Partners. As a result, Ocado will take a seat on Oxbotica’s board as well.

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.

Reduce the cost of last-mile delivery

This partnership is to collaborate on both hardware and software interfaces for AI-powered, autonomous vehicles, thereby integrating and enhancing Oxbotica’s autonomy software platform into a slew of vehicles. The use cases range from vehicles within and around its packing warehouses through to the last-mile vehicles that deliver grocery orders to people’s homes. As a result of the multi-year collaboration, Oxbotica can use the Ocado Smart Platform to reduce the cost of last-mile delivery and other logistics operations.

The relationship between Ocado and Oxbotica is not new as it debuted back in 2017 when the latter conducted a two-week trial using an early prototype delivery vehicle carrying out autonomous deliveries in Greenwich, London. Since the initial trial, Oxbotica made significant progress in developing its platform. Now, there is a broader partnership including both Ocado’s financial investment and a commercial collaboration agreement.

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.”

Paul Newman, Co-Founder & CTO of Oxbotica, commented: “This is an excellent opportunity for Oxbotica and Ocado to strengthen our partnership, sharing our vision for the future of autonomy. By combining both companies’ cutting-edge knowledge and resources, we hope to bring our Universal Autonomy vision to life and continue to solve some of the world’s most complex autonomy challenges.”