London taxi firm promises self-driving cars by 2021


LONDON • A fleet of autonomous taxis could roll onto the streets of the UK capital within three years, after one of London’s biggest private-hire taxi companies struck a deal with a maker of autonomous vehicle software.

Addison Lee Group, which has about 5,000 cars in active service in the city, signed a strategic partnership with software maker Oxbotica, the two companies said yesterday. Oxbotica was recently also chosen to guide the European Space Agency’s future Mars rover.

Andy Boland, Addison Lee’s CEO, said in a statement that “urban transport will change beyond recognition in the next 10 years with the introduction of self-driving services” and that the partnership with Oxbotica would help put the company “at the very forefront of this change”.

The effort is one of several self-driving initiatives in the UK. Earlier this year, Nissan began testing autonomous vehicles on British roads, and Ford Motor Co has begun testing similar technology with Jaguar Land Rover in Coventry.

Meanwhile FiveAI, a British start-up, has said it will begin trials of an autonomous ride-sharing service in London’s suburbs next year.

Financial terms of the partnership between Addison Lee and Oxbotica were not disclosed, but the companies said they will pool technology, expertise and resources to create an autonomous transportation service. Neither firm is making a set monetary contribution or making an investment in the other.