The long-awaited concept will arrive on the roads of the capital in three years time.
The days of making awkward chitchat with your Uber driver could be a thing of the past very soon, as it’s been confirmed today that London will host a trial of self-driving taxis. Government backing means that two driverless car trials will now commence in London (as well as a third in Scotland) sometime in 2021. The future, dear friends, is here.
The UK Department for Business, Energy, & Industrial Strategy announced the move this morning, claiming the move “from science fiction to reality” is here. Or at least it will be in 2021. The first trial – somewhat ominously codenamed ‘Project Apollo’ – will take place in Greenwich. Fifteen Addison Lee cars will adopt the new technology, and run customers to North Greenwich station and then across the borough, with rides increasing in complexity as the trial advances.
A second trial, known as ‘ServCity’, is being led by Jaguar Land Rover. This one sees six Land Rovers fitted with driverless capabilities, and unleashed on the streets of four as-yet-unnamed London boroughs. Both trials have been funded out of a £25 million investment, part of a plan to make the UK a world leader in driverless technology.
Uber, who have fallen afoul of TfL before, won’t play a part in this trial – although they are conducting their own trials in the US, with some worrisome results. If this all feels a little too dystopian for you, then spare a thought for the people of Edinburgh. Their trial, also set to begin in 2021, will see an autonomous bus service shuttling punters across the Forth Bridge. Presumably, anyone who’s seen Speed won’t be hopping aboard…
Fears like that are probably why the government is including social behavioural research in the trials, “to further explore how driverless technology can seamlessly integrate into society”. Then again, a driverless taxi can’t judge you for throwing up at the end of a big night out, so there are upsides to this technology!