Ocado has announced plans to invest £10 million in autonomous vehicle software firm Oxbotica, in a bid to reduce operation and delivery costs.
The partnership, which includes aspects of self-driving vehicles, will be used across the online supermarkets business from inside its fulfilment centres to last-minute deliveries and ‘kerb-to-kitchen’ robots.
However, vehicles that operate in low-speed urban areas or in restricted access areas will become a reality sooner than fully-autonomous deliveries to consumers’ homes.
According to the company, it expects to see the first prototypes of autonomous vehicles within the next two years.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Oxbotica and Ocado to strengthen our partnership, sharing our vision for the future of autonomy,” Oxbotica co-founder and chief technology officer Paul Newman said.
“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.”
Ocado chief of advanced technology Alex Harvey, added: “We are excited about the opportunity to work with Oxbotica to develop a wide range of autonomous solutions that truly have the potential to transform both our and our partners’ CFC and service delivery operations, while also giving all end customers the widest range of options and flexibility.”
The news comes as Ocado Retail reported a nearly 40% increase in revenues in its last quarter.
Ocado’s retail arm, which is run in collaboration with Marks & Spencer, celebrated another strong quarter, seeing revenues rocket 39.7 per cent to £599 million in the three months to February 28.