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An Addison Lee delivery van drives through central London, Britain (image: REUTERS/Toby Melville)
An Addison Lee delivery van drives through central London, Britain (image: REUTERS/Toby Melville)

Addison Lee Aims to Bring Self-Driving Taxis to London Streets by 2021

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An Addison Lee delivery van drives through central London, Britain (image: REUTERS/Toby Melville)

Addison Lee, the taxi company, feels London passengers are ready for self-driving cars. The firm is betting that people will be willing to hire automated taxis in three years’ time.

Self-Driving Taxis

Taxi company Addison Lee is working with Oxbotica, a self-driving software specialist, to bring automated vehicles to London’s streets. The company is betting London passengers will be ready for the experience by 2021.

Though Addison Lee is the first among London’s taxi companies to make such a direct effort with self-driving cars. However, that doesn’t mean the firm will have the only automated vehicles in London. Uber, the ride-hailing service, has also been quite involved in the technology. It has expressed its own intentions to start rolling out driverless vehicles on its ride-hailing network. That company is still waiting to receive regulatory permission to put its automated cars on the road.

Digital Public Road Mapping

Addison Lee and Oxbotica are working together to digitally map public roads throughout London and its surrounding area. These maps will provide position records for everything from streets to road signs, kerbs, and traffic lights. This way, when autonomous cars are ready to roll out, the complete digital maps will be fully prepared.

Andy Boland, head of Addison, said the company’s goal is to offer passengers shared minibus shuttles they can use for their daily commute or to get to places like the airport. Boland explained that the new tech would assist the firm in being able to “address congestion, free space used for parking and improve urban air quality,” in London.

A £28 Billion UK Industry

The U.K. self-driving vehicle industry is expected to be worth £28 billion in the United Kingdom by 2035. Boland is hoping his company will be at the “forefront” of this transition toward self-driving cars.

Addison Lee’s parent company is Carlyle, the private equity giant. The taxi company reported an annual loss of £20.8 million in its most recent results, from August 2017. It blamed the losses on investments it was making on the transformation “from a London private hire business to a global premium ground transport provider.”

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.