Oxbotica has announced that it has raised $47m in investment for new autonomous software to be deployed at mines across the world, with energy major BP and investment firm BGF among the backers.

The company, which began as a spin-out from Oxford University, is developing what it calls an “open autonomy software platform for the mining industry”, which will enable vehicles of all sizes and functions to communicate with one another and operate without human input. The company also offers a companion cloud-based vehicle and data management platform, which can integrate with all of the vehicles operated by the autonomous platform, creating a holistic approach to vehicle management and maintenance.

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“We are very excited about the amazing endorsement we have received from new and existing investors,” said Oxbotica CEO Ozgur Tohumcu. “This round of investment marks a key chapter in Oxbotica’s continued growth and pushes us forward in commercialising our autonomous software today, through key strategic go-to-market partnerships. The high-quality and global footprint of our investors cements our position as a leader in autonomy.

“We will use funds raised to accelerate the global deployment of our transformative technology.”

As the software can be installed on a range of vehicles and machines, older vehicles and those not designed specifically for automated work can be upgraded to function autonomously, ensuring that legacy machines are not left behind as the mining industry continues to embrace autonomous operation. Figures from Statista suggest that automation in the global mining industry will be a $4m industry by 2026, and developments such as the use of 32 220-tonne autonomous vehicles at China’s Xiwan coal mine suggest that the mining industry is prime for a significant expansion of autonomous technology.

The news is the latest in a series of encouraging investment rounds for Oxbotica, which is aiming to transition from start-up to sector leader in the automation industry. In 2018, the company secured $18.5m in funding to expand its operations in Europe, Asia, and the US, and last year Oxbotica signed an agreement with Hitachi subsidiary Wenco to develop its “open autonomy” mining solution further.

The company’s latest successful funding round is supported by investments from Halma, HostPlus, the IP Group, Tencent, Venture Science, and Doxa Partners, bringing a range of financial backers to the company.

“Oxbotica provides autonomy where it makes sense today: delivering safety, cost, and environmental benefits,” said Jamie Vollbracht, Cleantech Partner at the IP Group. “Two years after IP Group’s first investment, we are delighted to be able to welcome multiple value-adding investors to the share register.

“This substantial funding round will enable Oxbotica to move to the next stage, delivering those benefits in multiple applications across the globe.”