Promising British Self-Driving Tech Startups

Great Britain. The land of Industrial Revolution. Where steam engine, telephone and television were invented. Hall of Fame of Science and Technology would be a dull and deserted place without our fellow Brits because it is the home of great scientists like Newton, Maxwell, Faraday, Joule, Kelvin. However, is Britain’s glorious past being just history?

Nowadays, Britain struggles with a deep manufacturing crisis. Especially in automotive, the Kingdom lost its -almost- all long-established brands to other automotive companies in last 20 years: Jaguar/Land Rover, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Rover, Mg…
Let me visualise Britain’s struggle: The below graphs are the countries’ GDP’s from manufacturing, Germany, South Korea and the UK respectively.

Germany GDP



As you see, although, its competitors in industrial innovation are consistently growing, UK is still burning rubber on smooth tarmac and lacking some driving assistance features to take off nicely.
The UK government released an Industry Strategy document in November 2017 to tackle its longstanding productivity problems. The government plans to focus on 4 main areas: AI & Data Economy, Clean growth, Ageing society and Mobility. Although the 255-page paper shows the government has a vision to make the UK a centre of attraction for future technologies, the Strategy was criticized because of lack of details and inadequate funding.
Experts may be right to question the Strategy document as it does not tell much about how the UK will increase its productivity and competitiveness to pioneer these breakthrough technologies. But, we should give UK’s Technology Strategy Board, Innovate UK credit for starting up some solid projects in Mobility and Autonomous Vehicle Technologies. In last couple of years, Innovate UK started to fund AV and Mobility projects at a pace and invested almost £100 million in those projects. In addition, 6 cities (I should have said counties actually) are chosen as pilot zones for AV testing to enhance the productivity of startups and research groups: London, Oxford, Cambridge, Milton Keynes, West Midlands and Bristol. Actually, this makes the UK most AV-friendly country in Europe. (Check if your city welcomes AV testing in this map)
So, to give you a picture of the startup ecosystem in the UK, I picked up 3 promising AV Technology Startups and gathered all the info you need to know about them. Take a look:


Oxbotica XL Caitlin
Oxford based autonomous driving technology startup, Oxbotica is founded in 2014. Startup was founded as a spin-out from Oxford University as expected and its mission is developing an autonomous control system for both on-road and off-road vehicles.

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Stan Boland the CEO of FiveAI with his team in Bristol
Picture: Adrian Sherratt – Stan Boland the CEO of FiveAI with his team in Bristol (26 June 2017).

Self-driving tech startup wars are on in the United States. Dozens of startups are showing off their niche to be the next big thing in the startup ecosystem. In the meantime, European startups are working hard to draw attention to this old continent. Fortunately, one British startup made it last year. FiveAI, Cambridge based artificial intelligence and self-driving tech startup, raised £27 million in September 2017.

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Think of a startup. That was founded less than 2 years ago. Its creators came up with a novel processor idea for machine learning. In addition, in 3 funding rounds, startup raised $110 million. I am speaking of Graphcore, the Intelligent Processing Unit (IPU) producer.

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