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50 Leading Companies of the Year 2022

Making the earth move: Global self-driving software pioneer Oxbotica is redrawing the route to Universal Autonomy

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The drive to put autonomous vehicles (AV) on the market has accelerated over the last decade, with ingenious vehicle prototypes capturing the attention of consumers and industry leaders alike. Yet while AV hardware is advancing rapidly, the industry still grapples with a persistent challenge: equipping these vehicles with robust, responsive and adaptable software that enables AV to operate safely, sustainably and efficiently. Fueled by a deep-seated purpose to make the earth move, global AV software leader Oxbotica is unlocking autonomy for entire industries. How? By staying relentlessly focused on the software — creating a modular, adaptable self-driving system which can be configured for any vehicle, of any size, in any environment.

In conversation with Gavin Jackson, Oxbotica CEO

Q. What makes Oxbotica’s approach to self-driving technology unique?

Right from the start, Oxbotica’s founder — renowned innovator and autonomy pioneer Paul Newman — recognized that the greatest puzzle of AV lies in creating software that can learn from driving experiences, synthesizing data to inform and guide the thousands of decision processes per second that self-driving demands, regardless of the type of vehicle or the environment it is navigating.

Rather than creating single-purpose vehicles in a rigid, hard-to-adapt vertical model, we’ve mapped a clearer, safer and faster route to universal autonomy. As an artificial intelligence (AI) company at heart, Oxbotica harnesses machine learning, computer vision, augmented reality and more in a horizontal platform that can be configured to each customer’s unique needs and technologies. And we are focused on those industries where there is an immediate, urgent demand for AV capabilities: specifically, goods delivery, urban passenger transportation, and industrial uses in mining, energy and agriculture, where self-driving technology has the power to radically improve business performance through greater efficiency, sustainability, and safety benefits, today.

Q. Walk us through the technology that is at the heart of Oxbotica’s innovations.

Our autonomy platform is an adaptable, low-energy stack that is hardware- and sensor-agnostic – meaning it can be configured for different vehicles and environments. The same software stack that runs an autonomous passenger shuttle vehicle on a busy city street can also run a truck through a quarry or container in a port, with no change in parameters whatsoever and zero dependence on external systems, such as HD maps or GPS. Our open-autonomy approach enables customers to access our sophisticated suite of interoperable software modules, selecting the components best suited to their needs and existing technology.

  • Our full stack Oxbotica Driver is a low-energy platform that spans the entire spectrum, from low-level device drivers to 4-modal localization, mapping, obstacle detection, sensor perception, prediction, and planning. It features proven radar sensors which operate in environments where cameras and lasers cannot.
  • Oxbotica Cloud connects AV to our customers’ existing fleet management platforms, enabling operators to have complete control over their AV. This interoperability enables companies to immediately harness the benefits of AV in their operations without replacing existing systems. And it addresses autonomous driver supply to meet growing demand.
  • Oxbotica MetaDriver is our ground-breaking solution, significantly reducing the time and cost to verification and validation. Using localization mapping and real-world data from sensors, cameras and onboard AI, it synthesizes real-world driving miles with simulated scenarios meaning we can validate a customer’s environment without driving an actual vehicle in it.

By offering a configurable software stack within an open autonomy ecosystem, Oxbotica provides vehicle manufacturers and fleet operators with the functionality and flexibility to deploy AV in their operations in the way that best suits their needs – faster and more safely, sustainably and economically. That’s how we unleash the benefits of self-driving technology to every person and organization on the planet.

Q. How does Oxbotica’s autonomy ecosystem accelerate AV deployment?

Together with our category-defining anchor partners, we are building a whole autonomy ecosystem, because we believe passionately that this is the fastest and safest route to getting AV out of the prototype stage and onto roads – or off-roads, for that matter.

Our platform has naturally evolved from proof of concept to commercialization, but the ways it will be deployed are infinite. By working with world-class partners such as ZF, Ocado, Wenco and bp, we are reaching markets early, proving the value and viability of our capabilities in these key domains while capturing data that refines AV performance in more complex domains. This is how we are unlocking the game-changing benefits of autonomy for entire industries. 

Q. What are the next challenges on the road to widespread AV adoption?

Given the pace of AV advances, the focus has to shift now to scaling up — optimizing the user experience and addressing the barriers that prevent cities and industries from harnessing the transformative potential of AV. Investors, governments and businesses across the world are nearly there; and I know that advances like ours are helping them perceive just how powerfully advantageous AV can be in solving some of today’s biggest challenges. But there is still much to be done in terms of regulations and infrastructure to ensure the safe use of autonomy at scale. We also need to be intentional in building public trust in the software; greater understanding and evidence will help the general public feel comfortable with its wider adoption. That’s one of the reasons why we emphasize Oxbotica’s multiple-redundancy-based safety architecture; we believe AV companies must demonstrate an ‘always-improving’ dedication to reducing risk in every domain.

Q. Where does AV innovation lead?

At Oxbotica, we are relentlessly focused on ensuring autonomy makes the world a better place. Self-driving technology is a marvel of cutting-edge robotics, augmented reality, and AI engineering, but it’s the impact of self-driving advances that will transform our planet. It’s analogous in many ways to modern space travel and the ability to reuse rockets and make space travel affordable. It sparks an innovation race and, with it, new industrial norms. That new era of exponential innovation —and the massive value it unleashes —is remarkable and inspiring, and we are thrilled to be part of that journey.

Autonomy is a journey that will change the way people and goods move forever. It is the end of the beginning for autonomous transportation, and at Oxbotica, we’re proud to be out in front, making the Earth move for everyone.

Gavin Jackson, CEO, Oxbotica

Appointed CEO in December 2021, Gavin joins Oxbotica with unrivaled experience in the technology sector, having previously held senior executive leadership positions at Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS). As Microsoft UK managing director, Gavin was responsible for leading its enterprise commercial business, and as AWS managing director, he oversaw all EMEA operations. Passionate about safely and sustainably unleashing the benefits of self-driving technology for all, Gavin is helping accelerate and scale the company’s commercial deployment of its autonomous vehicle software globally and across multiple domains.

“Our single, unifying self-driving technology platform is configurable to safely transport people and goods any time, any place and in any vehicle.”