It is amazing to see how self driving cars were once seen as something out of a science fiction movie. The idea that cars could potentially drive themselves was viewed as something impossible not too long ago. Now, it seems that self driving cars are becoming more real every day. But while the engineering behind self driving cars is certainly fascinating, the beating heart will always be the software which ultimately drives the car. Building such software, its parameters and how the algorithms learn from an environment as complex as our road system, really is a goliath of a challenge. This challenge is one Oxa has been working on since 2014 and we really have been amazed not just by its progress but the talent and ingenuity the team has shown!
Written by: Tanay Sonawane, Varshith Uppalapati and Jasper Wigley
Oxa's journey commenced in 2014 when Oxford professors Paul Newman and Ingmar Posner founded Oxbotica, now recognized as Oxa, with an ambitious vision. Since its inception, the company has been dedicated to developing groundbreaking software designed to turn every vehicle into a self-driving entity, unrestricted by location or time – a vision encapsulated in what they term “Universal Autonomy”.
Fast forward eight years, and with a committed team of over 300 individuals, Oxa is actively driving the evolution of self-driving technology. The company's focus on creating autonomous vehicle software has expanded to applications in public transportation and specific work environments like airports and shuttle buses, positioning Oxa as a pioneer in the autonomous vehicle technology landscape.
At the core of Oxa's founding ethos is the development of autonomous software with remarkably low computing power requirements. By harnessing laser vision, radar technologies, and cloud management services, Oxa empowers businesses to seamlessly integrate autonomy into a variety of vehicles. This foundational approach not only establishes Oxa as an industry leader but has also garnered significant attention, culminating in a substantial $140 million Series C funding round earlier this year with participation from investors such as Alphabet Inc, BGF Investment Management, and many more.
The team at Oxa has recently undergone significant expansion in preparation for global growth. Graeme Smith, appointed as Chief Product Engineering Officer in August, brings over 26 years of experience in big tech, having served in leadership roles at Google and Amazon, where he oversaw substantial engineering teams and led pioneering initiatives. His responsibilities at Oxa include overseeing product management, engineering, solutions, programs, and services globally.
Katy Goldwater, the newly appointed Chief People Officer, boasts more than 25 years of experience in global human resources executive roles. Her leadership roles in high-growth companies such as TikTok, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and General Electric, equip her to drive talent development, recruitment, and organisational effectiveness at Oxa. Goldwater's mandate is to fulfil the promise of making Oxa the optimal environment for starting and developing long-term careers.
Oxa’s CEO, Gavin, brings unparalleled expertise in the technology sector, having held senior leadership positions at Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS). As the former Managing Director at Microsoft UK, he successfully led the enterprise commercial business, while in his role as the AWS Managing Director, Gavin oversaw all operations in the EMEA region. His multifaceted experience positions him as a key leader, steering Oxa through its growth trajectory.
Paul Newman, the founder and former Chief Technology Officer, has assumed the role of Oxa President. In this dual capacity, Newman will continue to lead technological advancements while driving the strategic vision of the company. His expertise and experience play a crucial role in shaping Oxa's future trajectory in the competitive autonomous vehicle technology landscape. With these strategic appointments, Oxa's leadership team is poised to navigate the company through its next phase of growth and reinforce its position as a leader in the autonomous vehicle technology sector.
WHAT THEY DO
Oxa has been at the forefront of autonomous driving since 2014. They began with a concise vision: to build out software that is capable of transforming any vehicle to becoming fully autonomous. This constitutes leveraging artificial intelligence and deep learning to build functional technology behind self-driving cars, anywhere, at any time. This product has since been dubbed ‘Universal Autonomy’. At the heart of UA, is the idea of utilising autonomy to optimise operations. This is addressing a major pain point in the industry, and as supply chains have become rapidly more efficient as a result, its use case is clear to see. Their Series C raise of $140m earlier this year is thus no surprise.
Moreover, Oxa has since built out a team of diverse, world-class experts who are known to be pioneers in the field of AI and machine learning, fuelling their reputation as global leaders in autonomous vehicle (AV) tech. Based out of Oxford, United Kingdom, and Toronto, Canada, they now have a team of 300+ with multi-constitutional customer bases and partnerships. This is crucial as they continue to deliver on autonomy across the transportation sector, continuing in the mission for a more efficient, seamless global economy.
Oxa’s products form 4 key elements. A Universal platform which enables any automation application to be scaled and applied across vehicles; Their software also enables someone to automate any car, with a full stack development package that can help engineers integrate sensor and machine learning data into any vehicle in development. Along with this, Oxa provides fleet management integration as well as virtual testing of automation algorithms. Such products give Oxa the ability to help power automation models end to end, and give manufacturers a real ability to develop automated driving systems within one environment.
The double-edged sword of chasing a multi-billion dollar solution, however, is that of inevitable competition. One such interesting company is TuSimple, based out of San Diego, USA. Having raised around $650m to date, TuSimple has developed a commercial-ready fully-autonomous driving solution targetting the logistics sector. Similarly, this tech encompasses various factors of autonomy such as perception, localization, planning, HD maps, and controls. Moreover, it offers TU simple connect which is a proprietary autonomous operation monitoring system, monitoring all vehicles under management in real-time. However, despite being a public company, TuSimple have recently had trouvle and face shutting down US operations, perhaps paving the way for competition to tackle market share.
Another strong competitor is that of Kodiak Robotics. Raising a relatively similar amount to Oxa in their Series C, USA-based scale-up is also tackling AV in logistics. Also now generating significant revenue, Kodiak has drummed up a significant valuation of a $500m post-money, following their most recent round. More specifically intended to operate on highway routes, the company utilizes sensor fusion systems and lightweight mapping alternatives to provide vehicles that handle all aspects of highway driving, enabling businesses to increase network efficiency and reduce costs.
Finally, another interesting competitor is Sweden-based Einride. With a more diverse scope, Einride is targetting both self-driving delivery vehicles and freight mobility platforms. Encompassing both roads and sea, they are utilising remote sensing and ML to take on the entire transportation industry. Having also raised an eye-watering Series C of $500m, they are strongly poised to expand their fleet of customers and tackle new & existing markets. It will be fascinating to see who is able to create and capture the most value in this vast target market, and undoubtedly shape global trade of the future.
LVCN sees Oxa growing even more in the future and will certainly be keeping an eye on the largest developments the firm is making. Seeing if automation software can evolve to changing road networks and even the ethical questions that arise when utilising them will certainly be a challenge for the future. However, Oxa shows promise in tackling them and will play a role in shaping the future of transport and logistics.