LONDON (Reuters) – British online grocer Ocado will invest 10 million pounds ($13.8 million) in autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica as part of a tie-up that aims to reduce the cost of last-mile delivery and other logistics, it said on Friday.
The partnership would include all aspects of autonomous vehicle development, Ocado said, though vehicles that operated in low-speed urban areas or restricted-access areas, such as inside its fulfilment centres, would become a reality sooner than fully autonomous deliveries to consumers’ homes.
The two companies started working together 2017 when Ocado conducted a two-week trial using an early prototype vehicle doing autonomous deliveries in Greenwich, London.
It also has built a cloud-based system that controls, audits and monitors autonomous fleets.
Ocado will take a seat on Oxbotica’s board after the investment, which was part of a larger funding round led by BP’s technology investment arm bp Ventures and including China’s Tencent among others.
Oxbotica’s co-founder Paul Newman said the two companies would share their visions for the future of autonomy.
“By combining both companies’ cutting-edge knowledge and resources, we hope to bring our universal autonomy vision to life and continue to solve some of the world’s most complex autonomy challenges,” he said.
($1 = 0.7267 pounds)
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by David Goodman)