British self-driving software startup Oxbotica and autonomous delivery company Goggo Network said on Wednesday they are teaming up to test middle-mile deliveries for retailers and other customers including Carrefour and Dia.

The partnership will initially see Berlin-based Goggo deploying Oxbotica’s autonomy software in Spain in middle-mile delivery operations for partners like Spanish pizza chain Telepizza.

The tests should begin in 2023, initially with safety drivers on board. If successful, the service will be rolled out to other parts of Goggo’s network in Europe.

Goggo will also use Oxbotica’s fleet management system to optimise the operational performance of its autonomous vehicles (AVs), the companies said.

Middle-mile delivery routes, where vehicles run on fixed routes between distribution centres, are seen as easier to automate than last-mile deliveries to individual consumers’ homes.

Developing fully self-driving vehicles that can go everywhere has proven harder and more expensive than expected, but investors are continuing to fund startups that target simpler self-driving vehicle solutions far removed from pedestrians and other vehicles operated by unpredictable humans.

Oxbotica said in January it had raised $140 million from investors to speed the deployment of AVs in areas including heavy industry, ports and airports.

(Reporting by Nick Carey, editing by Ed Osmond)

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