This isn’t the first time Ocado has invested in the space; the UK retail chain also put £10m into software company Oxbotica last year, to further enhance and develop its autonomous mobility software. As Ocado explained in April 2021, logistics costs constitute “the single-largest line item in the operating cost structure of online grocery,” and therefore autonomous vehicles offer “potential cost savings within core operations and significant opportunities to improve our partners’ customer proposition”. Prototypes are expected in two years time, with use-cases ranging from “vehicles that operate inside of our Customer Fulfilment Centres (CFCs) and the yard areas that surround them, all the way to last-mile deliveries and kerb-to-kitchen robots.”
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Recently investing £3m in technology company, StreetDrone. The partnership will help “accelerate the development and deployment of StreetDrone’s Pix-E delivery vehicle and autonomous delivery system”, with the aim of deploying driverless delivery cars on the UK’s roads by the end of 2023.
In the US, prominent robotics company Nuro has continued fundraising to reach a reported $8.6bn valuation, with its most recent $600m cash injection coming from Tiger Global Management. Alongside this, Nuro has also secured a five-year partnership with Google Cloud to “support the massive scale and capacity required to run self-driving simulation workloads, machine learning to improve model accuracy, and storage to manage important data from the vehicles.”
Indeed, Nuro is already on the road to commercialising its autonomous delivery services. 7Eleven is the most recent US retailer to sign on (following other well-known brands Domino’s Pizza and Walmart), teaming up with Nuro to pilot the first autonomous delivery service in California, after the company was granted government permission to operate. The service will start off using Nuro’s self-driving Priuses, before transitioning to Nuro’s R2 delivery vehicles, which are narrower and smaller than regular on-road cars. Local customers can access the service via the 7NOW delivery app, enabling them to order items for delivery in 30 minutes.