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Oxford-based automation firm, Oxbotica, has completed its first self-driving, zero-occupancy vehicle testing on public roads in Europe. 

The fully autonomous electric vehicle, Oxbotica Driver, is fully operational without the need for an onboard driver, enabling driverless technology to fulfil commercial goals; shopping/food deliveries and mobility access.

The technology harnesses radar vision and laser-based sensors to provide the vehicle with a comprehensive understanding of its surroundings. Simultaneously, multiple AI programmes work with this information to continuously check, evaluate and explain movement decisions. 

Understanding its environment, Oxbotica Driver anticipates the movement of other vehicles or pedestrians, plots a safe course, and generates the necessary input to the steering, braking, and throttle.

The journey of testing this technology has not all been smooth sailing. Oxbotica has had to conduct trials in line with UK codes of practice, ensuring operators were close at hand to assume control of the vehicles if needed. Over two years of comprehensive trials, they have defined extensive safety protocols and developed sophisticated system architecture across Europe to facilitate their progress.

Oxbotica founder and CTO Paul Newman said: “Oxbotica is changing the way people and goods move. Our goal is to be indistinguishable from perfect on safety, and this achievement alongside our partners is proof of that. It’s a historic moment for the UK, the transport and logistics sector, autonomous vehicle technology, and Oxbotica.”

Alex Harvey, chief of advanced technology at Ocado Technology, said: “This is a fantastic milestone and we are delighted to see Oxbotica making significant progress towards zero-occupancy goods deliveries. We continue to collaborate closely with Oxbotica.”

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