Self-driving taxis to be launched in London by 2021, Addison Lee says

Firm announces alliance with self-driving software company Oxbotica

Monday 22 October 2018 08:59 BST
An autonomous self-driving vehicle being tested in a pedestrianised zone in Milton Keynes
An autonomous self-driving vehicle being tested in a pedestrianised zone in Milton Keynes (Getty)

Self-driving taxis will be made available in London by 2021, according to plans unveiled by Addison Lee.

The taxi company announced it has formed an alliance with Oxbotica, a business that specialises in self-driving software.

They will be working together to create digital maps of more than 250,000 miles of public roads in and around the capital, pinpointing the position of every kerb, road sign and traffic light in preparation for the deployment of autonomous cars.

"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,” Andy Boland, the CEO of Addison Lee, said.

"Autonomous technology holds the key to many of the challenges we face in transport. By providing ride-sharing services, we can help address congestion, free space used for parking and improve urban air quality through zero-emission vehicles."

Addison Lee's long term aim is to take a slice of the expanding car services market for connected autonomous vehicle technology, which is forecast to be worth £28bn in the UK by 2035.

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Philip Hammond, the chancellor, has thrown his weight behind autonomous cars, saying he wants "genuine driverless vehicles" on Britain's roads by 2021.

The government has also asked the Law Commission to carry out a detailed review of driving laws to ensure the UK is at the forefront of the sector.

Addison Lee's rival Uber and several other firms are also gearing up to roll out driverless cars, pending safety and regulatory permissions.

The taxi firm has been looking to keep pace with the astronomical rise of Uber, which has radically shaken up the industry with its ride-hailing smartphone app.

As part of these efforts, Addison Lee has expanded rapidly into the US, snapping up rival Flyte Tyme as well as boosting its global footprint by buying Tristar Worldwide, which has operations in 80 countries.

Addison Lee, which is owned by US private equity firm Carlyle Group, was founded in Battersea in 1975 and has grown to become Europe's largest private hire car service company, carrying out 10 million journeys per year.

Agencies contributed to this report

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