U.K.-based autonomous vehicle software creator Oxbotica Ltd. said today it has closed on a hefty $140 million round of funding, in readiness to deploy its Universal Autonomy platform in numerous commercial and industrial domains across the world.
Today’s Series C round was led by new investors Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance Co. Ltd. and Eneos Innovation Partners, and saw participation from host of existing backers that included bp ventures, BGF, Halma, Hostplus, Kiko Ventures, Ocado Group, Tencent, Venture Science and ZF Friedrichshafen AG. The round brings Oxbotica’s total amount raised to $225 million to date, but it didn’t disclose a new valuation.
Oxbotica has developed an autonomous driving software platform called Universal Autonomy that can be used to power just about any kind of vehicle. It’s hoping to cater to a range of industries as well as individually owned cars, and the premise is that its platform can be used to power just about every aspect of driving a vehicle.
It covers navigation, perception, user interfaces and fleet managers, making it possible for vehicles to drive themselves in practically any environment. It’s also able to integrate with any other software vehicles might be using.
Some of the industries Oxbotica is targeting include agriculture, airports, energy and passenger transportation, the company said, as well as the metaverse.
Oxbotica’s ability to raise such a big round demonstrates that the company is making progress in an industry that has recently suffered quite a few setbacks from regulatory concerns about safety. In recent months, autonomous driving startups have struggled to raise funding, with others, such as Ford Motor Co.’s and Volkswagen Group’s Argo AI, shutting down their operations completely. At the time Argo AI announced its decision, it said that getting reliable “robotaxis” on the road was more difficult than the challenge of putting a man on the moon, despite having raised more than $3.6 billion in funding.
But it seems that Oxbotica begs to differ, if Chief Executive Gavin Jackson is to be believed. “This landmark investment from world-class investors is a tremendous validation of our strategy to apply self-driving technology where there is persistent and urgent demand — in supply chains, industrial sectors and decongesting our cities,” Jackson said.
Oxbotica has certainly made inroads, partnering with another U.K. startup, Applied Electric Vehicles Ltd., to carry out what was Europe’s first-ever zero-occupancy trial on a publicly accessible road in Oxford, England, in May 2022. Another partner is Ocado Group, with which Oxbotica is collaborating to create an autonomous goods delivery service to fulfill customer orders.
In addition, Oxbotica is working with Applied EV, BP p.l.c., ZF and the Swedish electric car maker NEVS AB to create autonomous passenger shuttles and other industry-specific ventures that it promises will be launched in 2024. There’s also a partnership with Wenco International Mining Systems Ltd. aimed at delivering autonomous vehicles for the mining industry. Oxbotica says it has carried out extensive testing of its platform in the metaverse as well, and has established collaborative alliances with partners in the insurance industry.
“Oxbotica really sets itself apart from its competitors thanks to its ambitious vision to unlock Universal Autonomy,” said Mitsuru Yamaguchi, senior managing executive officer at Aioi Nissay Dowa Insurance, which is combining Oxbotica’s AI and robotic techniques with its 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.”
Oxbotica said the funds from today’s round will primarily be used to accelerate its geographical expansion in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the Asia Pacific regions.
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