Oxford’s Oxbotica part of a multi million pound driverless car challenge


Oxbotica - Credit: Archant

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable and Transport Minister Claire Perry have launched a regulatory review of driverless cars along with the Government’s ‘Introducing Driverless Cars’ competition.

UK Autodrive is one of three projects that will see trials of driverless cars taking place over the next few years in Milton Keynes, Coventry, Greenwich and Bristol. The UK Autodrive consortium comprises the UK’s leading high tech and automotive businesses, academic institutes and forward-thinking local authorities, and will develop autonomous vehicle technologies and integrate driverless vehicles into existing urban environment in a £20m, three-year programme.

Oxbotica is a specialist provider of autonomous control system technologies and a recent spin-out from Oxford University’s Mobile Robotics Group and Isis Innovation, the University’s technology commercialisation company.

Oxbotica will develop the autonomous control systems that enable real-world operation of driverless vehicles in urban and pedestrianised areas around Milton Keynes. The aim of the driverless car initiative is to establish the UK as a global hub for the development of autonomous vehicle technologies and to integrate driverless vehicles into existing urban environments. The project will also test public reaction to autonomous vehicles and develop new legal and insurance protocols to make driverless mobility safe and viable. A key element of the UK Autodrive project is the implementation of a Low-Speed Autonomous Transport System (L-SATS), which will see 40 self-driving pods carrying members of the public on routes around Milton Keynes city centre, linking in to key transportation hubs and car parks and travelling through pedestrianised areas.

Dr Graeme Smith, Chief Executive of Oxbotica said, “Oxbotica is all about mobile autonomy. Our technology enables robots and autonomous systems to understand their environment and navigate safely through a pedestrianised environment. In this application Oxbotica will provide the smart software that enables the pod to understand where it is, how to navigate, and how to operate in challenging urban environments including obstacles, pedestrians and cyclists.

The L-SATS project will provide the first commercial scale demonstration of a solution for last-mile urban mobility and will have global significance, positioning the UK – and Oxbotica - at the very forefront of this society-changing technology.”

Professor Paul Newman, Oxbotica co-founder said, “It’s important that the UK invests not only in its research institutions and the technology that underpins autonomous self-driving vehicles but also that it supports and builds companies that can exploit and deliver this technology to the market. It’s time to transition the UK’s leading edge intellectual property in mobile autonomy from our research institutions to global markets in a coherent and integrated fashion. We created Oxbotica to accelerate this transition, and we are now in a superb position to deliver world leading autonomy tech into the L-SATS project, which will be the first of its kind to demonstrate such a substantial implementation of real autonomy.”

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The partners in the ‘UK Autodrive’ consortium are Arup, Milton Keynes Council, Coventry Council, Jaguar Land Rover, Ford Motor Company, Tata Motors European Technical Centre, RDM Group, MIRA, Oxbotica, AXA, international law firm Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co, the Transport Systems Catapult, the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and the Open University.