Ocado is investing £10 million in software specialist Oxbotica, in a move to help develop technology for a range of self-driving vehicles that the online supermarket can use, including ‘kerb-to-kitchen robots’.
Ocado partnering with and backing the firm, which was founded by two professors at Oxford University in 2014, is aimed at enhancing and integrating Oxbotica’s autonomy software into a variety of vehicles.
The tech could be used in vehicles that operate inside of Ocado's warehouses, to the yard areas that surround them, all the way to last-mile deliveries and kerb-to-kitchen robots.
FTSE 100 firm Ocado, which is led by Tim Steiner, added: “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.”
The relationship between the pair began in 2017, when Ocado conducted a two-week trial using an early prototype delivery vehicle doing autonomous deliveries in Greenwich.
Ocado said: “Since that initial trial, Oxbotica has made significant progress in developing its platform, leading to today's announcement of a broader relationship that includes both Ocado's financial investment and a commercial collaboration agreement.”
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 (customer fulfilment centre) and service delivery operations, while also giving all end customers the widest range of options and flexibility."