Oxford based autonomous driving technology startup, Oxbotica was founded in 2014 as a spin-off from Oxford University and its mission is developing an autonomous control system for both on-road and off-road vehicles. Oxbotica’s self-driving software platform is unfortunately called Selenium. I say unfortunately, because there is also a well-known software-testing framework called as the same (not good for internet accessibility).
Let’s forget about the name similarity and focus on the project Oxbotica’s AV software project. On project web-site, Oxbotica summarizes the logic it uses in their platform, Selenium, in three questions: Where am I? What is around me? What do I do next? Looks simple, init?
Usually, asking right questions is essential for finding the right answers. In Oxbotica’s case, it looks like the questions are right, yet the answers are a bit perplexing: Oxbotica’s control system contains a LiDAR and other necessary sensors, but it does not use GPS to locate where roughly the vehicle is on Earth. This simply means, its control system does not generate 3D maps to learn stationary objects like buildings or barriers for later usage. That almost sounds like Level 5 Autonomy (any place, any condition) and it would be sensational to see a non-mainstream system approach gets successfully commercialized.
Oxbotica develops Selenium as a part of, TRL funded, Greenwich GATEway Project (pictured above) and has plans to offer last-mile delivery services, called CargoPod, via using this platform. In January 2018, Oxbotica’s tiny self-driving van delivered foods and snacks in Woolwich for 10 days in a collaboration with British online supermarket, Ocado, and finished the test drives without any incident. It is fair to say, Oxbotica is seriously on track and started to make it to the front page of newspapers.
Last but not least, Oxbotica is one of the contributors of, government funded, Driven consortium which aims to self-drive a fleet of 6 connected vehicles from Oxford to London, including urban and motorway driving, by 2020.
That is to say, Oxbotica takes autonomous driving as a whole and delivers both services and engineering solutions. For a startup with less than 50 employees, their effort and success is applaudable. It will be exciting to witness their progress in the next decade.
Read also: Promising British Self-Driving Tech Startups