Working with public and private sector partners, the Oxford University spinout company Oxbotica is helping the UK lead the way in the autonomous vehicle revolution.
There’s little doubt that autonomous vehicles are on their way – in fact they’re already here in a variety of forms. And one company’s name has become synonymous with the UK’s globally renowned work in this area: Oxbotica.
Oxbotica was spun out of Oxford University’s world-leading robotics institute in 2014 and has since grown at rapid pace as an independent company. In the second half of 2018 alone, Oxbotica secured an investment round, formed a partnership with Addison Lee, and ran autonomous trials on public roads in London and Oxford.
For Professor Paul Newman, co-founder of Oxbotica and Director of the Oxford Robotics Institute, it has been an ‘extraordinary’ journey. He said: “From its inception, Oxbotica has worked closely with both local and central government, as well as transport authorities in Oxford and London. We are creating amazing jobs here in Oxfordshire and, via that, exporting software to some pretty incredible places. By the end of 2018, our software was running in four continents.”
Oxbotica collaborates with other businesses on multiple projects that receive government support. This includes its leading role in the Innovate UK-funded DRIVEN consortium, through which it is running trials in London and Oxford. It is also part of another government-backed consortium with Addison Lee Group to launch commercial services in London by 2021.
Paul Newman said: “We are striking partnerships and collaborating with other forward-thinking businesses across many industries to usher in the age of autonomous vehicles. It’s fantastic that the government sees the enormous potential of these efforts and is willing to throw its weight behind innovative firms.”
Understandably, given the enormous interest from media, driverless cars are often the first things that come to mind when autonomous technology is mentioned. But Oxbotica’s software – an autonomous control system called Selenium and a cloud-based fleet management system called Caesium – functions across a range of applications, from mining and warehouses to retail and ports.
Professor Newman said: “There is huge appetite across a range of industries for autonomous vehicle software to radically enhance safety and efficiency levels. But those purpose-built vehicles require heavy investment and are not easily replaceable, which is why it is only a software solution that can deliver the promise of autonomy to them: software scales in a way that physical objects don’t.”
He added: “Oxbotica is in a period of rapid growth – we’re growing the team, and we’re growing our presence in a fascinating set of industries in global markets. We are intent on building an extraordinary AI company in the UK – one that changes the way vehicles operate. As part of that we will continue to grow, form deep partnerships, and write some pretty amazing code.”