An Oxford University spin-off has developed the technology to control automated cars, but it doesn’t make hardware, rather providing the “brains” of the vehicle.
Oxbotica’s “brain” – called Selenium – can recognise its location and surroundings and, crucially, it can be applied to anything that moves – not just cars. The company’s co-founder, Paul Newman, explained the technology could be used in anything from space ships to fork lift trucks in warehouses.
It’s because the company has invested so much into the research behind the technology that it’s become such an innovative solution.
“We never called ourselves a driverless car group,” Posner told the FT. “We’re about fundamental research in mobile autonomy. That has applications in all places.”
According to the FT, the company has already penned deals with multinational corporations in the mining industry to help power their trucks, port operators to make the distribution of goods an easier process and even hopes to have self-driving cars on UK roads within 18 months. It will achieve this latter part of its plan by tying up with a car manufacturer, but won’t reveal whether the deal has already been signed or not.
However, Oxbotica spent a lot of time working with Nissan and BAE to test their self-driving car technology, suggesting it could be helping Nissan with its efforts in the driverless car space.
The reason the technology is more sophisticated than rival automated systems is because Selenium learns as it goes. It doesn’t try and understand everything before the vehicles it’s embedded in hit the roads and this makes it a more reliable system than others. Roads change all the time, construction means the landscape changes, so Selenium adapts to how the environment changes.
“That is what differentiates our technology from almost all the other technology out there,” Posner said.