U.K. on-demand car service plans autonomous vehicles in London by 2021

Two British firms announced an alliance to speed up self-driving taxi service development in London. Executive car service Addison Lee and autonomous vehicle software developer Oxbotica plan to implement self-driving car services by 2021.


Addison Lee, the first U.K. ground transport company with a booking app, provides as many as 30,000 rides daily in London using 5,000 of its own vehicles.

“Urban transport will change beyond recognition in the next ten years with the introduction of self-driving services, and we intend to be at the very forefront of this change by acting now,” said Andy Borland, Addison Lee CEO.

The executive car service worked with Ford and other companies for a year to study how autonomous vehicles could work within London’s transport infrastructure, Techcrunch reported.

The Merge Greenwich consortium led by Addison Lee reported that one in seven trips in London could be in self-driving rideshare services within eight years.

Originated by a group from Oxford University’s Mobile Robotics Group, Oxbotica is currently running multiple trials with self-driving vehicles in the U.K., ranging from home deliveries to shuttle buses.

British online grocery store CargoPod uses a small truck that Oxbotica built to make home deliveries managed by Oxbotica’s Selenium self-driving software and Caesium fleet management application.

Driverless shuttle buses transport airport staff and flight crews on London Gatwick Airport’s busy airfields, again managed by Oxbotica’s Caesium.

“This represents a huge leap toward bringing autonomous vehicles into mainstream use on the streets of London,” Oxbotia CEO Graeme Smith said, “and eventually in cities across the United Kingdom and beyond.”

Addison Lee and Oxbotica aim to carve a larger portion of the fast-growing car service market by leading with connected autonomous vehicles. The strategic alliance also intends to extend the services to include corporate shuttles and airport and campus-based transportation.

The two companies cite a comprehensive 2017 market forecast commissioned by the U.K. Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) that predicts a market worth 28 billion British pounds by 2035.

Leveraging Addison Lee’s brand and reputation for customer experience, the two firms are pooling expertise, technology, and on-the-ground resources to discover autonomous transport services that are safe and environmentally responsible.

One of the alliance’s first projects involves digitally mapping more than 250,000 miles of public roads in and around London. Prepared for reference by autonomous cars, the maps will include every curb, sign, traffic light, and landmark.

Foreseeing private car ownership shrinkage, Addison Lee and Oxbotica are ramping up to expand services and gain market share.

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