The autonomous car revolution is almost upon us, with London’s leading private hire company Addison Lee announcing plans today to launch a driverless taxi service in London in 2021.
The new driverless cabs are the brainchild of start-up Oxbotica, an autonomous car tech company spun out of Oxford University.
Oxbotica and Addison Lee will map over a quarter of a million miles of London’s roads over the next three years to refine the AI that will be used by the autonomous cabs.
Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, said the Addison Lee deal “represents a huge leap towards bringing autonomous vehicles into mainstream use on the streets of London.”
While Andy Boland, chief executive of Addison Lee, said the partnership with Oxbotica represented a true “British success story in how we revolutionise the way people get around cities”.
Fraser Robinson, who heads up the board of directors at Oxbotica, added that: “This is a truly ground-breaking development for the future of transport, not least because it’s happening in London – one of the world’s most valuable and complex mobility cities.
“Oxbotica is developing the advanced technology needed to both, make vehicles autonomous, and to intelligently co-ordinate fleets of autonomous vehicles. In Addison Lee, we now have a world-class partner to commercialise that technology and unlock its potential.
“Our combined set of unique capabilities, in autonomous vehicle software and in mobility services, is what enables us to be the first to commit to putting autonomous, passenger-carrying vehicles on London’s streets in the near future.”
The partnership may eventually allow Addison Lee’s fleet of black Mercedes and Prius cars to be driven autonomously, though the company said its 5,000 drivers in London will remain employed.
Andy Boland explained that, “our 5,000 drivers in the UK are going to carry on doing what they are doing. For the foreseeable future I would draw that distinction between premium services, and technology opening those other sorts of services at a relevant price point.”
Addison Lee may soon offer a cheaper, autonomous ride-sharing version of its hire service for corporate shuttles, around airports or campuses.
Via The Telegraph