London-based taxi firm Addison Lee has said that it will have self-driving cars ready for the public in three years' time.
The company is working with Oxford-based autonomous vehicle software company Oxbotica to digitally map roads in and around the city.
Oxbotica's software suite identifies obstacles like kerbs, road signs and traffic lights to plot a safe route, using a combination of cameras, lasers and radar.
Addison Lee CEO Andy Boland told the BBC that autonomous cars will help to "address congestion, free space used for parking and improve urban air quality."
He added that the firm plans to make such vehicles available for commuting, pleasure and airport transfers.
Addison Lee reported a £20.8 million loss in its financial results in August 2017, blaming transformation investment as it shifts ‘from a London private hire business to a global premium ground transport provider'.
A bright future?
The UK's self-driving vehicle industry is expected to be worth £28 billion by 2035, with backing from the government to fund autonomous vehicle projects. Last year, Chancellor Philip Hammond said that he wants fully driverless cars on the roads by 2021.
Companies including Ford, Tesla and Daimler are all working in the area, as well as competing taxi firm Uber. However, there have been problems along the way, including a fatal crash in the USA earlier this year.
Over the summer, Uber announced that it would abandon its work on autonomous lorries to focus on the (comparatively) simpler car market.
The head of Uber's Advanced Technologies Group, Eric Meyhofer, said at the time: "We believe having our entire team's energy and expertise focused on [self-driving cars] is the best path forward."
Mark Bridger, SVP of Europe at OpenText UK, said, "We're very much in an era of transition for automotive vehicles. The mix of confusion, fear, optimism and inevitability in the minds of UK citizens shows that whereas some AI-enabled technologies have moved seamlessly into our lives, more game-changing offerings like autonomous vehicles will take time to be embraced...
"[C]ar companies need to ensure they are doing more than delivering the most innovative connected technology. Addressing consumer concerns and loss of confidence will be critical for success and take up too. They need to ensure the technology is safe and reliable in order to install the level of trust needed for mass adoption."
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