UK-based maker of “universal autonomy” vehicle software, flush with cash after raising US$140 million, will target airports, mining, agriculture and other commercial sectors
Oxbotica, an autonomous vehicle software developer, is poised to expand its North American activities after announcing last month that it has raised US$140 million in Series C funding.
The UK-based company opened its first and only satellite headquarters in Toronto in 2019.
“Oxbotica established our Toronto office as our North American base … for several reasons: first and foremost among them is the opportunity to be situated close to some of North America’s top tech and AI talent,” said Gavin Jackson, Oxbotica’s CEO, in an email interview with Electric Autonomy.
The company describes its technology as providing “universal autonomy.” It allows “any vehicle, of any size, in any place to operate autonomously, safely and sustainably.”
Target applications include agriculture, airports, energy, delivery services and transportation. Founded in 2014, Oxbotica has participating in multiple trials and demos, primarily in the UK and Germany, since 2016.
Last year, at its home base in Oxford, Oxbotica began successful operation of a fully autonomous, zero-occupancy vehicle on public roads. Its next goal there is to launch an on-road commercial goods delivery service in 2023.
Oxbotica is still sharing only limited details about its plans for North American expansion. In his email, Jackson says the company plans to add 50 employees at its Toronto office. This is on top of the current staff of 16.
“We view this as our Canadian hub,” he said, adding that Canada has “tremendous commercial opportunities.”
Other reports say Oxbotica is searching for a new, larger operations centre in Toronto and plans to scale its North American complement to the 200-employee level.
“We’ve already seen a strong and persistent demand for our operating system for universal autonomy across many industries ready to bring autonomy into their operations,” Jackson added.
In 2020, Oxbotica signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Wenco International Mining Systems. Wenco is a subsidiary of Vancouver-based Hitachi Construction Machinery, to develop an open autonomy solution for mining vehicles. Jackson declined to provide any further details on the status of that project.
Funds to drive global growth
The latest funding increases the total raised by Oxbotica to approximately US$225 million. Existing investors who took part in the latest round include: bp ventures, BGF, Halma, Hostplus, Kiko Ventures (IP Group), Ocado Group, Tencent, Venture Science and ZF. New investors include Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance and ENEOS Innovation Partners.
In addition to supporting a North American expansion, Oxbotica says the funds will drive growth in other global markets.
In a statement in the press release announcing the new financing, Mistsura Yamaguchi, senior managing executive office at investor Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance, said that company plans to combine Oxbotica’s AI and robotic techniques with its own expertise in telematics insurance.
“This will leave us well placed to develop innovative insurance products and services which will create a safer, greener and more secure society for everyone,” Yamaguchi said.
In the same release, Oxbotica also said it is partnering with Applied EV, bp, NEVS and ZF to equip autonomous passenger shuttles and industry-specific vehicles with Oxbotica technology for launch in 2024.