UK Online Grocer Ocado Teams with Oxbotica to Develop Autonomous Driving Systems for Delivery Operations

Ocado Online Grocer (
Flickr / Adrian O. Alegria
)

Ocado, the UK online grocer, is now investing in growing its business and developing technology for its online ordering and delivery services.

The company has invested $ 13.8 million (£ 10 million) in Oxbotica, a UK startup developing autonomous driving systems.

Ocado and Oxbotica join forces

Ocado sees this as a strategic investment in creating AI-powered, self-driving systems that work across operations, from cars in and around its packaging warehouses to last mile cars delivering food orders to people’s homes.

The online grocer said it expects the first products from this store to be online within two years, most likely in enclosed environments like warehouses instead of a less structured view of open streets, according to CNN.

Also Read: Google, Walmart Team To Let Users Buy Groceries With The Google Assistant

Alex Harvey, chief of advanced technology at Ocado, said they weren’t limited to working in one use case, they were rolling out autonomous systems everywhere. They realized that there are areas where, among other things, they need regulatory compliance.

According to Reuters, the deal is not exclusive and both can work with other partners if they so choose, the companies confirmed.

News of the deal came just a day after Walmart in the US acquired a stake in Cruise, another autonomous tech company, as part of the company’s $ 2.75 billion monster round, according to TechCrunch.

By February, Walmart owned one of Ocado’s major competitors in the UK, and Ocado has made its first forays into the US to run Kroger’s online grocery store, which went live this week. This means that competition between the two companies is intensifying.

In general, the world of online ordering and delivery services for groceries has grown massively in 2020.

Former companies like Ocado (online only), Tesco (UK) and Instacart (US) saw record demand. However, they were also joined by strong competition from well-capitalized newer companies that would also like to take advantage of this opportunity to bring different approaches.

In Europe, Oda, Rohlik in the Czech Republic, Everli in Italy and Picnic in the Netherlands are other big names looking to expand beyond their home territories.

Ocado has raised massive amounts of money to pursue its own international agenda. Many of these companies will have a tremendous year in 2020, not only because of the pandemic, but also because it made many people stay home and stay away from places where they may be infected with the virus.

Ocados next step

The big question now is what the market will look like in the future when people’s lives return to normal. Ocado has already outlined how low demand is, albeit still higher than before the pandemic.

The new normal could lead to the competitive landscape intensifying further. This could be why companies like Ocado are investing more in the next generation of services that are more efficient and based entirely on technology.

Related article: Walmart Approaches Shipments of Goods From Heaven; Amazon laughs at the idea

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Written by Sieeka Khan

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