In a move indicative of Google’s commitment to autonomous vehicle technology, the tech giant has announced a 3.5% stake in Oxa, a driverless car company originating from Oxford University.
This investment, undisclosed until recently, highlights Google’s bet on the future of autonomous vehicles, a field it has been actively participating in through its subsidiary, Waymo.
Oxa: Pioneering the Operating System for Driverless Car Fleets
Oxa, formerly known as Oxbotica, stands out as an Oxford University spin-out specialising in providing the “operating system” for driverless car fleets. Unlike other players in the industry, Oxa focuses on developing sophisticated driverless car systems tailored for specific environments such as public transport and job sites.
Rather than concentrating on equipping individual cars with sensors, Oxa’s technology is geared towards broader applications, making it a unique player in the market.
Collaborative Opportunities with Waymo
This strategic investment opens doors for potential collaborations between Oxa and Waymo, Google’s autonomous driving subsidiary. By integrating Waymo’s fully-autonomous vehicles with Oxa’s advanced software, the companies could revolutionise the landscape of driverless systems, creating innovative solutions for various sectors.
Google’s Involvement in Autonomous Driving
Google’s interest in autonomous vehicles is not confined to Oxa; the company has been actively involved in shaping the future of transportation. Through Waymo, Google’s parent company Alphabet has been offering fully-autonomous rides to the public in Phoenix and San Francisco since 2009.
This expansion into the realm of public transportation shows Google’s commitment to making self-driving technology accessible and safe for everyone.
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Additionally, Google’s cloud computing division has entered into a partnership with Oxa, aiming to assist the British company in the development of simulation and testing technology. This collaboration emphasises Google’s holistic approach, focusing not only on financial investments but also on technological advancements that drive the evolution of autonomous systems.
Oxa’s journey in the autonomous driving industry began with the pioneering efforts of Oxford robotics professors Paul Newman and Ingmar Posner, who placed the UK’s first driverless car on the roads in 2016. Despite a setback in their planned driverless taxi launch in London in 2021, Oxa has forged alliances with industry leaders like Beep, facilitating shuttle services in the United States.
With investors including Ocado, BP’s venture capital arm, Tencent, and now Google, Oxa is well-positioned to continue its innovative strides in the autonomous driving sector.
A Global Perspective
Beyond its investments in Oxa, Google has made strategic acquisitions in the autonomous vehicle space, including the purchase of UK-based Latent Logic in 2019.
Waymo, as an integral part of Google’s autonomous driving ventures, recently gained approval to offer 24/7 driverless taxi services in San Francisco, marking a significant milestone in the company’s global expansion.
Google’s latest investment in Oxa shows the company’s commitment to shaping the future of autonomous transportation.
By strategically aligning with innovative companies like Oxa and fostering collaborations between industry leaders, Google continues to drive advancements in autonomous driving technology. As these partnerships evolve, they hold the promise of transforming transportation, making it safer, more efficient, and accessible to people worldwide.