Ocado Invests In Autonomous Vehicle Software Firm Oxbotica; Plans New Vehicles For Smart Platform

British online supermarket Ocado Group (OCDO.L) Friday announced that it has commercially partnered with Oxford -based autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica Ltd. Under the multi-year collaboration, the companies plan to develop a range of vehicles that will be integrated into the Ocado smart platform.

Ocado will invest 10 million pounds in Oxbotica as part of Oxbotica's latest Series B equity funding round. The round was led by bp ventures, and included other strategic and financial investors as Tencent, Halma, BGF, HostPlus, IP Group, Venture Science, and funds advised by Doxa Partners. Ocado will take a seat on Oxbotica's board.

Ocado expects to see the first prototypes of some early use cases for autonomous vehicles within two years.

The companies will collaborate on hardware and software interfaces for autonomous vehicles, enhancing and integrating Oxbotica's autonomy software platform into a variety of vehicles.

These include vehicles that operate inside of Ocado's Customer Fulfilment Centre or CFC buildings and the yard areas that surround them, all the way to last-mile deliveries and kerb-to-kitchen robots.

Ocado said it will build teams of engineers within its existing Advanced Technology division to work with Oxbotica on these diverse use cases.

The deal is expected to enable Ocado's partners that use the Ocado Smart Platform to reduce the costs of last-mile delivery and other logistics operations.

Ocado in 2017 had conducted a two-week trial using Oxbotica's early prototype delivery vehicle doing autonomous deliveries in Greenwich, London.

Ocado said it continues to seek further investments and/or partnerships as it grows and develops its autonomous vehicle capabilities.

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