Oxa Deploys Commercial Self-driving Software for the First Time

The code has hit the road for Oxa, a global provider of self-driving vehicle software, as the company launches its first commercial Oxa Driver product in passenger shuttles in Jacksonville, Florida.

The services represent a significant investment in the city's downtown region, managed by the US shuttle service provider Beep, in collaboration with the Jacksonville Transport Authority (JTA) and the Florida State College at Jacksonville (FSCJ).

These shuttles form a segment of an autonomous vehicle (AV) initiative, sanctioned by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). They bolster the ambitions of both JTA and FSCJ to emerge as pioneers in autonomous transportation. This is as the college integrates AV competencies into its curriculum, and the city embarks on a substantial investment in autonomous transport through the Ultimate Urban Circulator Project.

“This initiative is a testament to years of hard work and collaboration between the private and public sector, including the U.S. Department of Transportation,” said JTA CEO Nat Ford. “We are eager for the FSCJ campus and the wider Jacksonville community to experience these AVs firsthand to see the benefits they bring.”

Maturing Technology and a Maturing Market

Oxa Driver enables vehicle automation independent of human control, but trained safety attendants will be used on the FSCJ route to boost confidence and trust while passengers get used to the self-driving experience. The first rollout will be followed by 7 more featuring Oxa software planned in cities across the US and UK in 2024.

“The AV market is in a really interesting place as the number of innovators begins to shrink in a battle of business and technology models,” said Gavin Jackson, CEO of Oxa. “My view is AV technology won’t be commercially viable in cars or taxis for a decade so focus should shift to the mass movement of people and goods, specifically shared passenger systems such as the FSCJ shuttle, and industrial logistics. These sectors suffer from severe driver shortages yet they also offer huge public and business benefits if they can be enhanced - and autonomy can do that in a cost-effective way now.”

The launch makes Oxa the first and only British company exporting deployment-ready self-driving vehicle software into the global market. Oxa calculates the two most viable arenas - Passenger Shuttles and Industrial Logistics - will form an addressable software market worth multi-billions of dollars a year. This is based on the number of vehicles that can benefit from self-driving software, potential revenue per vehicle, and the commercial and technological viability of making the shift.

Science Meets Purpose

Oxa Driver is the culmination of 10 years of invention, software engineering, hardware integration, machine learning and testing in the virtual and real worlds; the product of millions of hours of engineering development.

According to Oxa Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Professor Paul Newman CBE: “Deploying Oxa Driver in passenger shuttles playing a key role in a community’s regeneration is momentous. When I started Oxa in 2014, my vision was that autonomous vehicles should be a noticeable force for good, not only improving driving safety but also in elevating possibilities for people. It’s easy to get caught up in the technology but FSCJ proves that when science meets purpose, and it adds up financially, you have a powerful reason to go faster and further, and that’s exactly what we’ll do now”

New US and UK Routes Coming Soon

Shuttle services in the US, utilising Oxa Driver, are being rolled out in collaboration with Oxa's strategic US fleet operations partner, Beep. The company is implementing programs in over two dozen communities across six states, positioning itself at the forefront of introducing autonomy throughout North America.

“Our partnership with Oxa is off to a great start, and we’re very pleased with the results of our first autonomous shuttle deployment in Jacksonville, in concert with our partners at the Jacksonville Transportation Authority and Florida State College at Jacksonville,” said Joe Moye, CEO for Beep. “Oxa Driver provides an enhanced passenger experience and elevated operational capabilities to further improve safety, and we’re excited to expand the deployments of this joint solution, with six additional sites currently planned for 2024.”

The range of autonomous shuttle deployments is broad; from catalysing regeneration in downtown Jacksonville to serving science parks and well-established areas like Lake Nona in Orlando, Florida. Lake Nona is a pioneering 17-square-mile community known for integrating cutting-edge technology to optimise mobility and lifestyle options; a commitment to innovation that has drawn in multiple Fortune 500 companies. The area is grounded on a gigawatt network infrastructure and is home to Wave Lake Nona, celebrated as the world’s most technologically advanced hotel.

Other city services yet to be announced in 2024 will be a mix of private and public transportation shuttles using a variety of vehicle types from fully customised to retrofitted commercial platforms.