Addison Lee eyes autonomous taxis by 2021

Taxi firm Addison Lee has joined forces with driverless software startup Oxbotica with the aim of launching self-driving taxi services in London by 2021.

The two companies have announced a strategic partnership in a bid to accelerate Addison Lee’s plans to launch a fleet of autonomous vehicles in the capital as the race to deploy the technology-enabled taxi service of the future hots up.

Under the agreement, the companies will collaborate on the development, deployment, and operation of autonomous vehicle technology, with a focus on self-driving car services that are safe and environmentally friendly.

The market for autonomous vehicle technology is set to be worth £28 billion in the UK by 2035, according to a recent Transport Systems Catapult Market report.

Addison Lee Group said it also hoped to develop Oxbotica’s expertise in autonomous vehicle software to explore opportunities in corporate shuttles, airport and campus-based ride services.

For the time being the two companies are working together to create digital maps of more than 250,000 miles of public roads in and around London. The maps will aim to record the position of every kerb, road sign, landmark and traffic light in preparation for a fleet of autonomous cars.

Whilst the collaboration will start in London, the two companies said they hope to expand service to new markets including New York in the future.

Announcing the partnership, Andy Boland, chief executive of Addison Lee, 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.

“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.”

Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, said the partnership represents a huge leap towards bringing autonomous vehicles into mainstream use on the streets of London, UK cities and beyond.

“Our partnership with Addison Lee Group represents another milestone for the commercial deployment of our integrated autonomous vehicle and fleet management software systems in complex urban transport conditions. Together, we are taking a major step in delivering the future of mobility,” he added.

Oxbotica, a spin-out from Oxford University, has raised around $18 million to date, with backers including Oxford, Innovate UK, the Ministry of Defence, the IP Group, insurers Axa XL and others.

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