Oxford hosts fully-autonomous zero-occupancy vehicle trial

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Oxford has hosted Europe’s first deployment of a zero-occupancy, fully autonomous, new-type electric vehicle on publicly accessible roads.

Oxbotica/Applied EV

Driven by autonomous vehicle software specialist Oxbotica, the all-electric AppliedEV vehicle is operating in Oxford with no on-board driver, marking the next step in commercialising AV technology. The target for the first public on-road business deployment is with a goods delivery variant for the Ocado Group from 2023 onwards.

Oxbotica is simultaneously accelerating commercial deployment of autonomous vehicles globally, which the deployment of autonomous passenger shuttles and industry-specific platforms driven by Oxbotica Driver, the company’s full stack autonomy system.

Oxbotica Driver uses radar vision and laser-based sensors to provide the vehicle with a deep understanding of its surroundings, with multiple AI continuously checking and explaining decisions.

In a statement, Paul Newman, Oxbotica founder & CTO, said: “Oxbotica is changing the way people and goods move. Our goal is to be indistinguishable from perfect on safety, and this achievement alongside our partners is proof of that. It’s a historic moment for the UK, the transport and logistics sector, autonomous vehicle technology, and Oxbotica.”

The landmark achievement follows two years of extensive trials by Oxbotica to define its safety case and develop its system architecture, in off and on-road operations across the UK, Europe and North America.

Oxbotica said it is also a significant milestone for the insurance market and the development of insurance solutions for autonomous vehicles as part of the UK’s evolving mobility network.

The insurance programme, arranged by broker Marsh and created by Apollo Group’s ibott initiative through its MGA in partnership in the UK with insurer Aioi Nissay Dowa Europe, is the first of its kind in the UK and is tailored specifically for the risks associated with L4 autonomy on open roads.

Alex Harvey, chief of advanced technology at Ocado Technology, said: "This is a fantastic milestone and we are delighted to see Oxbotica making significant progress towards zero-occupancy goods deliveries. We continue to collaborate closely with Oxbotica and are excited about providing this transformational capability to Ocado Smart Platform (OSP) partners at the earliest possible opportunity."

“This Europe-first trial positions the UK as the number one destination for autonomous vehicle development and leapfrogs us towards commercialisation and the subsequent economic benefits available in this hyper-growth technology category,” added Gavin Jackson, Oxbotica CEO. “Autonomous vehicles will create billions of pounds in new revenues and generate thousands of high-skilled jobs, while helping cities and businesses meet their targets for carbon reductions.”