Autonomous grocery deliveries could be rolled out in complex urban environments following Ocado Group’s partnership and £10m investment in Wayve, a London-headquartered autonomous mobility start-up.
Wayve’s advanced deep learning and camera-first technology is said to have the ability to adapt to new, unstructured, highly complex environments, without the need for pre-programming, human-designed rules, or high-definition mapping.
“Ocado is on a journey to develop highly intelligent autonomous mobility systems to further transform the operational economics, and proposition, of the Ocado Smart Platform for our OSP retail partners,” said Alex Harvey, chief of advanced technology at Ocado Group. “We’ve been impressed with Wayve’s approach to solving this most complex of challenges and are excited to accelerate our capabilities so that our retail partners globally can take advantage of them at the earliest opportunity.”
An autonomous delivery trial will see Wayve’s technology fitted onto a selection of Ocado delivery vans for testing on urban delivery routes for 12 months. This trial will help Ocado explore Wayve’s ability to handle the congested streets and challenging manoeuvres that last-mile delivery technology must be equipped to navigate. A portion of Ocado’s existing delivery fleet will be outfitted also with Wayve’s data collection devices to provide data for training and validating Wayve’s technology.
“Globally, there is huge momentum to transform mobility in grocery operations right now,” said Alex Kendall, CEO of Wayve. “We are focused on delivering an autonomous last mile solution to support the needs of grocery retailers everywhere. Through this partnership with Ocado Group we aim to unlock autonomous delivery faster in more places worldwide.”
To date, Wayve has raised over $58m and has tested its technology in cities across the UK. The company said it aims to be the first to deploy autonomy in 100 cities.