Self-driving taxis could be on London’s streets in three years’ time under plans announced by Addison Lee, the private-hire taxi business, and Oxbotica, an autonomous vehicle software company.
The pair have agreed a strategic alliance to provide ride-sharing services in the capital. They will also look at the potential for corporate and airport shuttle transport, as well as campus-based services.
The two companies will create detailed digital maps of more than 250,000 miles of London’s public roads that record the position of every kerb, road sign, landmark and traffic light in preparation for the deployment of autonomous cars.
It comes as research claims three quarters of the public fear autonomous cars on UK roads, with 76pc saying lack of vehicle control is their biggest worry and 60pc afraid that self-driving vehicles could be hacked by criminals, according to MoneySuperMarket.
Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, called the partnership with Addison Lee a “huge leap towards bringing autonomous vehicles into mainstream use on the streets of London, and eventually in cities across the UK and beyond”.
Addison Lee boss Andy Boland said: “Urban transport will change beyond recognition in the next 10 years with the introduction of self-driving services, and we intend to be at the very forefront of this change by acting now.”
Addison Lee is already leading the MERGE Greenwich project, which is investigating how self-driving vehicles can be used to complement existing transport systems.
MERGE Greenwich is one of several UK projects looking at autonomous technology and its implications. London is classed as one of the few “mega-cities” in Europe and has some of the most challenging driving conditions in the world, caused by a combination of its complexity, congestion, the city’s historic layout and poor road surfaces.
Others who have tried to test self-driving cars in the capital have failed.
Two years ago Volvo said that by 2017 it would start testing driverless cars on the city’s roads. It is yet to meet that pledge.
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