Driverless taxi carries passenger on a British street for the first time


FiveAI, which has a base in Millbrook (one of seven locations), has begun road tests of its self-driving technology in the boroughs of Bromley and Croydon. The company says its cars will be ferrying commuters around the boroughs for the next two months but hasn't released any details of the 12-mile loop they'll use. They will be making more than three journeys per day on 'multiple' days per week.

At least two people will always be in the car – a back-up driver, a technician and sometimes a volunteer commuter. But the cars will be driving themselves in real-world conditions. The cars will drive on a set circuit and will pick up and drop off their passengers at unknown set locations.

A total of 130 volunteer commuters will take part in the ongoing project, which will see the cars – adapted versions of Ford Mondeos – face real-life problems. The cars began initial trials in April and FiveAI is now rolling out a bigger testing program on London's roads. Streetwise, the project behind the car trials, is using more than £12million in government funding to test its technology.

Grant Shapps MP, the Secretary of State for Transport, said:

'The untapped potential of self-driving vehicle technology is huge’.

'It could enhance road safety, tackle isolation, and create economic opportunities’.

'StreetWise’s successful trial will be a major step to rolling out the next phase of the UK’s transport revolution.'

The trials will continue to help FiveAI to hone its software in real life driving scenarios while also allowing TRL to gain insight from commuters. TRL will be looking into points such as assessing participants’ willingness to use and pay for a shared self-driving service as well as measuring their attitudes towards safety and trust.

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