UK high street retailer Wilko has today announced a major investment in British autonomous vehicle technology company, StreetDrone.
The £3m investment, which will give the retailer a significant interest in the firm, is part of a wider multimillion-pound pre-series A round that should help enable StreetDrone to accelerate the development of its Pix-E delivery vehicle and autonomous delivery system.
The investment also forms a part of Wilko’s long-term strategy to strengthen its omnichannel model and ambition to provide customers with access to new digitally-enabled services, including autonomous retail deliveries, that will make it easier for them to access products for homes and gardens.
As part of the investment, Jonathan Griffin, director of WilkinsonFuture, which invests in cutting-edge sectors including robotics, consumer technology and engineering, will sit on the firm’s board, and oversee the investment on behalf of Wilko.
Jerome Saint-Marc, CEO of Wilko said: “Autonomous vehicles are the future of automated logistics, and StreetDrone is undoubtedly one of the key players that will lead the way in making this technology viable.
“One of the key reasons why we’re backing the team at StreetDrone is that this sort of transformative technology can have a huge and positive impact for hard-working families – and it’s this ethos that runs through all of our work at Wilko.
“Ultimately, it has the potential to reduce costs for customers when deployed in the retail sector. We look forward to supporting them on this journey.”
StreetDrone is aiming to deploy driverless delivery vehicles on the UK’s roads by the end of 2023 and is working with UK-based vehicle safety agencies on defining the standards by which these technologies will be allowed to operate on public roads.
Mike Potts, founder and CEO of StreetDrone, said: “We are delighted to have the support of a major UK retailer.
“Wilko will help us realise our aim of bringing autonomous last-mile services to UK and European roads, to the benefit of both retailers and consumers.
“Our technology, aligned with Wilko’s determined strategy to enrich the lives of its customers, is the perfect fusion of our capability and their requirement.”