UK government reveals London and Edinburgh public first to experience self-driving vehicles

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Following the announcement that Edinburgh will roll out its first full-size autonomous bus service, the UK government has announced that London’s public will also be the first in the UK to experience self-driving public transportation technology with members of the public being able to take a ride on the vehicles by 2021.

Three new public trials of self-driving public transportation were unveiled by business and energy secretary Greg Clark on a visit on Thursday to Oxbotica, part of one of the winning consortia.

As part of the announcement, an Oxbotica-powered consortium was awarded government funding to launch self-driving passenger services in London by 2021 with taxi company Addison Lee.

The consortium won £15m (US$19m) to introduce 15 autonomous vehicles in the capital designed to support areas which are poorly served by existing public transportation.

The service will be app-based, on-demand and based on ridesharing. The vehicles will be low-emission, designed with the pedestrian in mind and priced at a level to generate demand without impacting other public transportation.

The three new public trials were announced by Clark as part of a £25m (US$32m) government grant made available through the Connected and Autonomous Vehicles Intelligent Mobility Fund.

Each pilot combines the strengths of leading names from business, technology and academia – including Jaguar Land Rover, Addison Lee, Fusion Processing, Oxbotica, and the universities of Nottingham and the West of England – and supports the government’s ambition to have self-driving vehicles on UK roads by 2021 through the modern Industrial Strategy and Future of Mobility Grand Challenge.

“Self-driving cars will revolutionize the way we move goods and people around the UK. These Industrial Strategy projects and investments are exciting examples of our long-term plan in action – ensuring we build on our strengths to reap the rewards as we accelerate towards our ambition to have autonomous vehicles on UK roads by 2021,” said Clark.

“Autonomous vehicles and their technology will not only revolutionize 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.”

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