(Alliance News) -Â Ocado Group PLC on Friday said it is investing GBP10 million in autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica Ltd.
Oxbotica was founded in 2014 as an Oxford University spin-out.
Ocado's investment is part of a commercial partnership between the two to collaborate on hardware and software interfaces for autonomous vehicles, enhancing and integrating Oxbotica's autonomy software platform into a variety of vehicles.
The use cases range from vehicles that operate inside of Ocado's Customer Fulfilment Centre warehouses, to last-mile deliveries and "kerb-to-kitchen robots".
"This will be a multi-year collaboration, and the ultimate ambition is to enable Ocado's partners that use the Ocado Smart Platform to reduce the costs of last-mile delivery and other logistics operations," said Ocado.
The two began working together in 2017, when Ocado conducted a two week trial using an early prototype delivery vehicle doing autonomous deliveries in Greenwich, London. Since then, Ocado said Oxbotica has made "significant progress" in developing its platform, leading to Friday's announcement of the FTSE 100 constituent's financial injection and commercial collaboration.
Ocado will invest as part of Oxbotica's latest series B funding round and will take a seat on Oxbotica's board.
The round was led by bp ventures, and included other investors such as Tencent Holdings Ltd, Halma PLC and IP Group PLC.
Beyond potential cost savings within its core operations, Ocado said it sees scope to improve its partners' customer proposition.
For both regulatory and "complexity" reasons, Ocado expects that the development of vehicles that operate inside its CFCs may become a reality sooner than fully-autonomous deliveries to consumers' homes.
"However, all aspects of autonomous vehicle development will be within the scope of this collaboration. Ocado expects to see the first prototypes of some early use cases for autonomous vehicles within two years," said Ocado.
By Lucy Heming;Â firstname.lastname@example.org
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