The United Kingdom has now announced that 2021 will be the launch date for driverless / autonomous public transport services on the UK’s roads. With the launch of this £25m state funding scheme, the government has pledged to maintain a “world-leading” position in autonomous vehicle deployment.
The first phases will commence with a Driverless Taxi service in four boroughs of London and an Autonomous bus service that will cross the Firth of Forth in Scotland.
Three pilot schemes will see full-sized driverless buses journey the 14 miles between Fife and Edinburgh, whilst the vehicle operator, Addison Lee in partnership with Jaguar Land Rover, will undertake the English capitals driverless taxi trial.
It is predicted that 5 single decker driverless buses will make up to 10,000 journeys a week across the Forth road bridge, each carrying up to 42 passengers. The conversion of the bus from standard to Autonomous driven will be led by Fusion Processing, a technology company which specialises in sensors and control systems. Other companies across the UK will also be involved in the project.
In other parts of London, UK Autonomous Software company, Oxbotica and Addison Lee, will continue with complex route trials in Greenwich. The aim is to have this borough up and running with a public hire driverless taxi service, also by 2021.
The self-driving taxis will, similar to the Waymo service, be available to hire via a smartphone app. In addition to an improvement in the City mobility, the operators claim to also improve the environment and air quality, using very low-emission vehicles from day one.
Jaguar Land Rover have also announced that they will launch a separate six vehicle premium mobility service, in other parts of London.
The UK government business secretary, Greg Clark, said that these projects, would ensure the UK built on its strengths in innovation, stating “Self-driving cars will revolutionise the way we move goods and people around the UK. Autonomous vehicles and their technology will not only revolutionise how we travel, it will open up and improve transport services for those who struggle to access both private and public transport.
“The UK is building on its automotive heritage and strengths to develop the new vehicles and technologies and from 2021 the public will get to experience the future for themselves.”