Will autonomous vehicles deliver your groceries in the future?
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Many repetitive tasks could be automated in the future and the delivery of your weekly grocery shopping might just be an example, along with your daily commute.
Autonomous vehicles (AVs) are among the technologies that could make this a reality.
Oxbotica, a company backed by Parkwalk Opportunities EIS Fund since September 2018, is in the vanguard of this movement: in May 2022 it reportedly completed Europe’s first deployment of a zero-occupancy fully autonomous vehicle on publicly accessible roads. Strategic partnerships with Ocado and BP, investing double-digit millions, have helped the business test and develop its AV software.
Today, Oxbotica is one of the leaders in its field. In January 2023, it raised $140 million from a host of renowned investors, including Aioi Nissay Dowa, BGF, IP Group's Kiko Ventures and Tencent.
Find out more about the technology and why the Parkwalk Opportunities EIS Fund backed the business, below.
What makes Oxbotica different from other AV technologies?
The company was founded in 2014 at Oxford University by two professors, Paul Newman and Ingmar Posner. They were part of the Department of Engineering Science Mobile Robotics Group, where they developed RobotCar, the first autonomous vehicle on UK roads. This was the technology that led to the foundation of Oxbotica.
Oxbotica is focused on the development of AV software that does not rely on external systems such as GPS, unlike some competitors. Reliance on GPS poses a challenge for AVs, especially in densely populated areas where tall buildings can create an “urban canyon” that interferes with satellite signals.
Instead, Oxbotica’s AV technology operates on its own proprietary systems. The company believes its software platform will change the way people and goods move – enabling a cleaner, safer, more accessible future for every person and every community on the planet.
The technology is designed to have practical applications for multiple industries.
To highlight a few, Oxbotica already has the following partnerships:
- Ocado Group for automated warehouse vehicles, last-mile delivery vehicles, and kerb-to-kitchen robots
- ZF to deploy passenger shuttles operating 24/7 on fixed routes in major cities around the world
- BP for automation in industrial domains including wind farms, solar farms, and refineries
- Wenco for developing an Open Autonomy solution in the mining industry
Is it safe?
Oxbotica's technology has been tested in a wide array of vehicles. Its versatile software is said to perform reliably in the busiest cities and most complex environments, in rain and snow, at night and day — helping to keep both passengers and pedestrians safe.
Parkwalk invested in Oxbotica for five key reasons:
Parkwalk Advisors (Parkwalk) has been a long-term, active investor in Oxbotica. Parkwalk first met its founders in 2017 through its links with technology transfer office Oxford University Innovation (OUI). Parkwalk invested in Oxbotica for five main reasons:
- The unique technology: Oxbotica operates on its own proprietary systems – invaluable in areas where GPS is unavailable or inaccurate and where other live systems have failed.
- Multiple applications and markets: Oxbotica offers a scalable, modular software platform that can map, drive, detect obstacles and predict outcomes. It has applications across multiple sectors and terrains, including cloud-based fleet management in highly complex urban and industrial environments.
- IP protection: Oxbotica’s proprietary technology is protected by 19 patents.
- Commercial progress: Oxbotica’s illustrious list of non-financial investors and partners are giving it access to commercial opportunities in autonomous passenger fleets, agriculture, sustainable energy farms, light and heavy industries, logistics, as well as ports and airports.
- Quality of leadership team: The leadership team at Oxbotica is exceptional, in Parkwalk’s view. Paul Newman, the founder, is BP Professor of Information Engineering at the University of Oxford and sits on the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology. Gavin Jackson, CEO, has in-depth experience at Microsoft as MD for Commercial Enterprise EMEA and prior similar experience at Amazon’s AWS. Parkwalk is also impressed with Oxbotica’s management and board.
Oxbotica has created a unique offering in autonomy: the ability to drive off line with perception, in industries with applications that are commercially viable today and across multiple verticals.Moray Wright, Chief Executive Officer, Parkwalk Advisors
Want to invest in companies similar to Oxbotica under EIS?
The Parkwalk Opportunities EIS Fund aims to invest in at least eight five early-stage cutting-edge technology companies. Manager Parkwalk is one of the UK's most active investors in university spinouts. Parkwalk has strong ties to the UK’s leading universities and manages funds in conjunction with the tech-transfer departments of the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College and Bristol. These partnerships could provide investors with unique access to the spinout sector.
To date, Parkwalk has invested in 163 companies and achieved 54 full and partial exits, 19 of which were profitable with exit multiples ranging from 1.1x to 16x, although past performance is not a guide to the future.
Performance of Parkwalk EIS funds per £100 invested in each tax year
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