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Oxbotica's robotic brain finds its way into driverless vehicles in the U.K.

We’ve gotten used to major car manufacturers as well as corporations with deep pockets, such as Google, testing out autonomous vehicles. In certain parts of the country, such as California, they’re frequently spotted in the streets. Google alone has logged millions of miles of data in the Golden State.

Across the pond and outside of Oxford, you’ll find Oxbotica, a company that branched off from the ancient university. Business Insider reports that this group is developing its own little self-driving car. The company is currently displaying Selenium, the robotic brain that will control the car.

Besides building the usual components needed to guide the car, such as lasers, cameras, and sensors, Oxbotica also designs the software that brings everything together. This same software uses data to learn from its mistakes and have the car perform better on public roads.

Beyond cars, the group’s tech has made its way into forklifts, mining trucks, and even NASA’s Mars Rover. This versatility should help it to compete with rival giants such as Google, according to founder Paul Newman.


“We love those guys [Google], because they made the market possible,” Professor Newman said. “They introduced this brilliantly into the public’s conception of what’s coming in the future.”

The company has  seen steady profit since its inception two years ago, and aims to see the fruits of its labor used in “all things that move.”

“…First to the market does not equal first for all time,” Newman said. “People say to us, ‘why would you do this if Google is out there?’ That’s like saying to Dell, ‘why would you make computers when there’s IBM?'”

Newman lists cars, taxis, driverless pods, and forklifts as possible recipients of the technology, all learning from each other. Accidents themselves might be learning experiences for us humans as individuals, but a machine caught in an incident could share the new knowledge with other machines, so each is the better for it the next day.

Oxbotica has received millions in funding and will be releasing driverless pods controlled by its systems onto the streets of Greenwich and Milton Keynes as part of a program partly funded by the U.K. government. The goal is to encourage homegrown companies to develop autonomous vehicle technology.

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