Oxbotica – A world where cars think for themselves.
A spin-out company from the University of Oxford called Oxbotica has developed a new software system for making regular cars into driverless
Oxbotica is developing the next generation of autonomous vehicles – creating the software that makes them go. Using the latest in computer vision and machine learning, our systems learn from their environment and share experiences with each other, so that they’re getting smarter all the time.
Oxbotica’s prototype development vehicle. It is one of the main platforms on which the team tests out new software. It is an electric vehicle that is based in Oxbotica’s main workshop and test track in South Oxfordshire. It runs Oxbotica’s autonomous operating system – Selenium.
We use a combination of lasers and cameras on the Geni. Stereo cameras perform localisation and estimate the vehicle’s motion through the world (VO – or Visual Odometry). Lasers and cameras together detect and classify obstacles in the environment, such as pedestrians, cars and bicycles.
The specification and mounting configuration of the various sensors will depend on a number of factors, including the environment it’s operating in (e.g. public roads vs warehouse environment), the size and shape of the vehicle, and its operating specification. Read more about Selenium
The software uses the knowledge of where it is in the world, together with local information about the environment around the vehicle, to determine a safe path and velocity to move the vehicle towards its goal.
Self-driving vehicles equipped with Oxford-developed autonomy software were tested successfully in public for the first time in the UK in October. The demonstration in Milton Keynes was coordinated by the Transport Systems Catapult (TSC) and marked the conclusion of the LUTZ Pathfinder project, which ran for 18 months.
The autonomy software running the vehicle, called Selenium, originated in Oxford University’s Oxford Robotics Institute with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Selenium uses data from cameras and LIDAR systems to navigate its way around the environment. Selenium is being commercialised and was integrated onto an electric vehicle by Oxford University spinout company Oxbotica.
The vehicle demonstration took place on pavements around Milton Keynes train station and business district. In the future, it is expected that vehicles like those demonstrated in Milton Keynes will be used for local transportation in urban areas.
GATEway (Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) is an £8m research project, led by TRL and jointly funded by Innovate UK and industry, to understand and overcome the technical, legal and societal challenges of implementing automated vehicles in an urban environment.
Taking place in Greenwich, one of the UK’s leading smart cities, the project will trial and validate a series of different use cases for automated vehicles, including driverless shuttles and automated urban deliveries.
Results will help both industry and policymakers understand the implications of driverless vehicles and deliver a safe and validated test environment in the UK, driving job creation and investment in a rapidly emerging technology area.
GATEway is one of several projects taking place in the UK Smart Mobility Lab at Greenwich – an open, real world, test environment for connected and automated vehicles
Caesium is Oxbotica’s fleet management system, a cloud-based service that will schedule and co-ordinate our fleet of autonomous vehicles, enabling smartphone booking, route optimisation and data exchange between the vehicles without human intervention.
Later this year, Caesium will control the fleet of 8 GATEway pods in Greenwich, London. At a glance, a shuttle operator can view information about the shuttle, such as what mode it’s in (manual or autonomous), its velocity and heading, the amount of battery remaining, and the temperature of key components. It also shows its next destination. From the iPad that’s running Caesium, an operator can cancel autonomy at the touch of a button, or request maintenance.
In the GATEway project in Greenwich, London, we are also providing our Selenium autonomous control system to power 8 shuttle vehicles developed by Westfield Cars and Heathrow Airport, which will be used by members of the public in a 6 month demonstration starting early 2017.
Selenium is Oxbotica’s autonomous control system, a vehicle agnostic operating system that can work on anything from forklifts, to cargo pods, to vehicles. The software uses the knowledge of where it is in the world, together with local information about the environment around the vehicle, to determine a safe path and velocity to move the vehicle towards its goal.
There are three questions central to autonomous driving, that the system must be able to answer before it can enter autonomous mode:
- Where am I? The world is always changing. The system uses cameras and lasers to precisely pinpoint itself on a map, no matter the weather and lighting conditions – localising without using GPS.
- What’s around me? The system uses a complement of sensors and algorithms to identify and track pedestrians, cars and other obstacles in the environment.
- What do I do next? Knowing where it is and what’s around it, the system calculates a safe and efficient route to transport you to your destination.
Oxbotica is providing our Selenium autonomous control system to the GATEway project in Greenwich, London. Our software will drive 8 passenger carrying shuttle vehicles, which will be used by members of the public in a 2 month demonstration starting mid 2017. We are also developing an exciting new concept of an autonomous commercial vehicle for “last mile” delivery, and this will also be demonstrated in Greenwich mid-2017.