Ocado delivery vans
Image credit: Doug Peters / PA Wire

Brief: E-grocer Ocado invests $14m in autonomous vehicle startup Oxbotica

April 21, 2021

  • UK grocery delivery company Ocado has invested £10 million ($13.8 million) in Oxbotica, a UK startup developing software for self-driving vehicles.
  • Oxbotica claims that its technology achieves “complete autonomy” for any vehicle in any environment. The cloud-based system can also control fleets of vehicles.
  • Ocado plans to adopt Oxbotica’s tech for its UK operations before rolling it out internationally, building on an earlier partnership between the two companies in 2017.

Why it matters:

Covid-19 has boosted the popularity of online grocery delivery, with roughly two-thirds of consumers now ordering their weekly shop online – thanks in no small part to quarantine orders and fears over contracting the virus.

Autonomous vehicles have emerged as a potentially promising way to cut down on one of the biggest costs for these services: labor.

However, autonomous vehicles are facing headwinds over safety issues. Elon Musk’s electric carmaker Tesla is currently under scrutiny over a recent crash in Texas involving one of its autopilot-enabled models that left two passengers dead. A number of US states have already enacted self-driving vehicle legislation.

Ocado has made several other notable investments in automation recently, including $287 million spread across robotics companies Kindred Systems and Haddington Dynamics.

Its investment in Oxbotica comes as part of the latter’s Series B round, which netted £34 million ($47.3 million) in a January tranche from petroleum giant BP and internet firm Tencent, among others.

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