UK net supermarketOcado(Ocado) is on track to resell its technology to help other grocery companies develop their online ordering and delivery businesses. On April 16, local time, the company will invest in what it believes will be the next chapter in business growth.British startup developing self-driving systemsAcquire £ 10m worth of shares in Oxbotica。
Ocado is making a strategic investment in the acquisition of the shares to develop an AI-powered autonomous driving system that can be used on the vehicle itself and in all operations from inside and outside the packaging warehouse to the last mile vehicle that delivers grocery orders to the home. I’m catching it. The company expects the first product from the deal to be available in a warehouse-like closed environment rather than an unclear road, perhaps within two years.
“We’re not trying to tie ourselves to one use case effort,” Ocado’s Chief Executive Officer of Advanced Technology Alex Harvey said in an interview. But in order to deploy automated systems everywhere, “I realized that there are areas that need to be regulated,” Harvey added. The share acquisition transaction is non-exclusive and both companies have confirmed that they can collaborate with other partners.
The investment will be made as an extension of Oxbotica’s Series B announced in January 2021.Oil and gas giantbpThe total size of Series B is 6000, led by bp Ventures, an investment division of BGF, safety equipment maker Halma ,, pension fund HostPlus, IP Group, Tencent, Venture Science, and multiple funds advised by Doxa Partners. It was over 10,000 dollars (about 6.5 billion yen). Oxbotica didn’t disclose the valuation, but its co-founder and CTO Paul Newman confirmed in an interview that the latest investment has boosted the valuation.
Related article: Oxbotica raises 4.83 billion yen to deploy self-driving car software to industrial applications
The timing of this news is very interesting.Walmart of the United States is part of a huge round of $ 2.75 billion (about 299.1 billion yen) of autonomous driving tech company CruiseAcquired sharesIt was the day after the news came out (actually less than 24 hours have passed).
Until February 2021Walmart owned ASDA, one of Ocado’s major UK competitors. And Ocado has made a foray into the United States in a deal to support Kroger’s online grocery business, which will go live this week. Therefore, the competition between the two companies is becoming fierce.
Related article: US supermarket Kroger opens its first large-scale robotized fulfillment center in Ohio
In general, 2020 online grocery and delivery services have grown significantly. Ocado, a pioneer offering only online services, Tesco in the UK (with real stores and online networks), and Instacart in the US have witnessed record demand, but they are well-funded and seize the opportunity. We also faced competition with a large number of new entrants who were enthusiastic and brought in different approaches (delivery within an hour, low volume sales, specific products, etc.).
Big name companies from other countries are also looking to expand into Ocado’s home UK.For those companiesRoom(Formerly Kolonial), CzechRohlik(Raised about 25 billion yen in March 2021), Everli of Italy (formerly known as Supermercato24, raised about 10.8 billion yen), NetherlandsPicnic(Although we haven’t announced funding recently,Publicized ambition for overseas expansionGiven that, it seems like it’s only a matter of time). Ocado also pursues ambition for global expansionRaised a huge amount.. And that was before dozens of small grocery delivery companies came out.
Related article: European shopping agency Everli in collaboration with a local supermarket raises about 11 billion yen in Series C
2020 was a hit for many of these small businesses. Not a little because of the pandemic. In a pandemic, many people stayed home and avoided places where they could become infected with the new coronavirus or spread the virus.
But now, when people return to their “normal” lives, the big question is what the online grocery market will look like in the future.
As TechCrunch pointed out earlier, Ocado has already predicted that demand will shrink, but it’s still higher than it was before the pandemic. In fact, competition will probably intensify in New Normal.
That may be one of the reasons companies like Ocado are spending more money on what’s likely to be the next generation of services: efficient and purely technology-powered.
The rationale for paying a fortune for a very expensive self-driving tech that hasn’t been tested yet to save costs is based on a long-term perspective. Logistics account for about 10% of the cost of grocery delivery operations. But this number is even higher during peak demand or when regular services collapse.
The author predicts that cost-subsidizing services such as free delivery services to promote new businesses and discounts on grocery stores are currently being rolled out here and there (as a result of fierce market competition). ), Logistics are even more costly.
So even if the industry giants are seeing results within years instead of weeks, look at how they can leverage their tech strengths to control those costs and speed up operations. It’s no surprise to point it. Of course, investors will see it unless it doesn’t get going.
In addition to collaborating with Oxbotica, Ocado said it is looking to invest more in the partnership while developing its self-driving vehicle capabilities. This is the first investment in Oxbotica, but we have also invested in many other startups to work with the next stage of technology.Here to grab something that will be introduced soonBuild a robot armResearch on two recent robot companies (Kindred and Haddington) for $ 262 millionAcquisition, Robot startupKarakuriOrMyrmexIncludes investment in.
It’s worth noting that Oxbotica and Ocado are not ignorant of each other. The two companies began collaborating in the delivery testing business in 2017. You can see what the delivery service looks like in the video below.
“For Oxbotica and Ocado, this is a great opportunity to share a vision for the future of autonomous driving and strengthen the partnership,” Newman said in a statement. “We hope that by combining the cutting-edge knowledge and resources of both companies, we will bring our universal automation vision to our lives and continue to solve the world’s most complex automation problems.”
But autonomous driving technology is terribly complex and has regulatory and safety hurdles that make it far from a complete commercial system that almost eliminates people from a series of operations.
“Due to regulation and complexity, Ocado is more likely to develop vehicles that drive at low speeds in urban areas or areas with restricted access, such as in CFC buildings and CFC yards, than fully autonomous delivery to consumers’ homes. We expect it to become a reality much sooner, “Ocado wrote in a statement about the deal. “However, all elements of self-driving car development are within the scope of collaboration. Ocado expects to unveil the first prototype of an early use case for self-driving cars within two years.”
While autonomous driving on the road is still a few years away, Newman pointed out that it’s not as much a moonshot concept as it used to be, and Oxbotica is already working towards it. “You can get closer to the moon little by little,” he said.
Tags: Oxbotica, Ocado, UK, Self-driving, Financing
Image Credit: Ocado
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(Sentence: Ingrid Lunden, Translation:Nariko Mizoguchi）