18 Oct Addison Lee Plans Self-Driving Cars by 2021
Private Hire firm Addison Lee has announced plans for self-driving cars by 2021, only days after road safety experts warned drivers are ‘over-estimating’ the technology.
The firm has joined forces with self-driving software specialists Oxbotica and says the venture will see self-driving taxis in London in three years’ time.
This means it will once again be pitting itself against Uber, which is also planning on rolling out automated vehicles, pending regulatory permission.
Addison Lee says the next steps will be to work on the machine learning behind the service: digitally mapping roads in and around the capital. This will include the position of kerbs, road signs and traffic lights.
Addison Lee boss Andy Boland said he hopes the firm can offer shared minibuses to passengers to get to work or transport hubs like airports. Speaking to the BBC, he said the technology would help the firm “address congestion, free space used for parking and improve urban air quality”.
But last week road safety experts warned that self-driving cars were not at the level many consumers thought had been reached.
Speaking to ITV News, they said they are worried drivers are overestimating what the technology can do -based on what some of them claim are exaggerated promotions by the manufacturers.
A survey says one in ten drivers with so-called highway assist systems would consider having a short nap while the car drives itself. This is despite the accident in Arizona where a person was killed by a self-driving car despite having a test driver behind the wheel.
And Tesla’s self-driving cars have been caught by police travelling on the road without a driver behind the wheel.
Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, a centre focusing on car safety, said that people needed to understand that the technology was designed to help but not take over driving.
“Inherently they’re driver-assisted systems designed to help you but not take over the driving task”.
This was echoed by police, with Inspector Jamie Langwith from Hertfordshire Police saying “There are technologies out there like cruise control, like lane departure mode etc but you must also be in a position where you can take control of that vehicle”.