While the world awaits the arrival of safe, reliable and cost-effective self-driving cars, one of the pioneers in the world of autonomous vehicle software has raised some solid money to see as an immediate immediate opportunity. Providing technology to industrial companies for building off-road applications.
Oxbotica, Oxford, England startup that calls it “universal autonomy” – flexible technology that says it supports navigation, perception, user interfaces, fleet management and other features needed to drive self-driving vehicles in multiple environments Can do. The hardware is in use – having invested $ 47 million in a Series B round of funding from an interesting mix of strategic and financial investors.
The BP venture, led by the investment arm of oil and gas giant BP, also includes funds advised by BGF, security equipment maker Halma, pension fund Hostplus, IP Group, Tencent, Venture Science and Docs Partners.
Oxbotica Said it plans to use the capital to fuel a fleet of upcoming deployments – many that will come online this year, according to its CEO – to customers in areas such as mining, port logistics and more, its The size of its clients and the types of projects it has in its sites, with major investors indicating bp.
This question CEO Ozgur Tohmaku said in an interview, “Where is the need for autonomy today? If you go to mines or ports, you may already see the use of vehicles. “We see a major change happening in the industrial sector.”
The funding and focus in the industry are interesting for Oxbotica. The startup has been running since around 2014, originally as a spinout at Oxford University, co-founded by academics Paul Newman and Ingmar Posner – Newman remains on startup as its CTO, while Posner is an AI professor at Oxford Are made
Oxbotica has been linked to several high-profile projects – quickly, it provided sensor technology for NASA’s Mars Rover, for example.
Over time, it has streamlined what it calls the two main platforms it calls Selenium and Cesium, respectively, navigation, mapping, perception, machine learning, data export and related technology; And fleet management.
Newman says that what makes Oxbotica out of other autonomous software providers is that its systems are lightweight and easy to use.
“Where we are good, there is little edge,” he said. “Our radar-based maps are 10 megabytes to cover a kilometer instead of hundreds of megabytes … Our business plan is to build a horizontal software platform similar to Microsoft’s.” However, it can reduce the efficiency of what it is building: Oxbotica has also worked out how to efficiently move heavy data loads associated with autonomous systems, and to bring these online to companies like Cisco Is being worked with.
In recent years Oxbotica has become synonymous with some of the more notable on-road self-driving schemes in the UK, but as you would expect with autonomous car projects, not everything has gone as expected.
In 2018 Oxbotica, a self-driving pilot with London-based car service Addison Lee, said it would be its first car on the road by 2021. That project was quietly shut down, however, the year Edison Lee was sold to Carlyle and the company abandoned the expensive monshots. Another effort, a publicly supported Project Endeavor to build autonomous car systems in towns in England, is still in progress.
The turn of industrial customers, Newman said, is coming with those more ambitious, large-scale applications. “Industrial autonomy for off-road refineries, ports and airports is on the way to on-road autonomy,” he said, with the focus remaining firmly on providing software that can be used with different hardware is. He said, “We always have ‘no atoms, just software.” “There is nothing special about the road. Our point is to be agnostic, to ensure that it works on any hardware platform. “
It can claim to have always been interested in hardware- and application-agnostic autonomy, but these days it is joining others who have tried the other route and decided to follow the Oxbotica strategy instead . These include another highprofile autonomous startup FiveAI out of the UK, which originally wanted to build its fleet of self-driving vehicles, but last year for other hardware manufacturers to provide their software technology on a B2B basis Was prepared
Oxbotica has raised about $ 80 million so far, and is not disclosing its valuation, but is optimistic that the coming year – with deployment and other new partnerships – will find that it is doing just fine in the current market is.
“BP Enterprises is pleased to invest in Oxbotica – we believe its software can accelerate the market for autonomous vehicles,” said Erin Halock, BP Enterprise Management Partner, in a statement. “Helping accelerate the global revolution in mobility is at the heart of BP’s strategy to become an integrated energy company focused on solutions for customers.”