London autonomous car firm FiveAI has begun pilots in Bromley and Croydon
Supervised tests of a potential autonomous car service built by a UK-based artificial intelligence firm have begun in two London boroughs.
Autonomous technology firm FiveAI has started testing five self-driving cars in Bromley and Croydon as the latest step in its plans to eventually roll out an autonomous, car-sharing service in London.
The company hopes to begin passenger trials in 2020.
As part of the test, the five vehicles will operate on all days of the week and all times of day and night, with trained safety drivers in the vehicles at all times to take control if required.
FiveAI first began gathering data by manually driving their sensor-enabled cars on London streets last year to help build the software required to run the tests.
It says it has worked with local councils and Transport for London (TfL) as part of its planning for the scheme.
The company’s co-founder and chief executive Stan Boland said: “Safety and trusted partnerships are crucial to everything we do.
“We’ll continue to keep residents informed along the way, working closely with the London Boroughs and Transport for London.”
The company has previously said it hopes to eventually create an autonomous car service that could help reduce congestion, emissions, incidents and the cost and time of journeys in London.
In 2017, the company was also part of a consortium that was awarded a grant of more than £12 million by the Government to develop software for an autonomous car system, a project known as StreetWise.
Future of mobility minister Jesse Norman said the Government was keen on seeing self-driving cars on UK roads.
“The long term potential for self-driving vehicles is huge – to improve road safety, tackle loneliness and isolation and create economic opportunity,” he said.
“So I welcome the safe testing of this new technology. But increasingly self-driving cars are just one of many innovations we are likely to see on our roads. The Government’s new Future of Mobility: Urban Strategy sets out how it will plan for their introduction.”
UK-based projects are in a race to beat Google’s Waymo project to launching driverless services in the country – an industry estimated to be worth $175m (£136.4m).
Oxford University spinoff Oxbotica, which is set to run a fleet of autonomous vehicles between Oxford and London this year, signed a deal with Addison Lee, the taxi and courier company, to launch a driverless taxi service in the capital by 2021.