Merge Greenwich: Addison Lee to lead UK driverless cars coalition in London
London-based cab company, Addison Lee is set to take the reigns of a government-sponsored program into driverless car research. Dubbed the Merge Greenwhich initiative, the coalition estimates up to 1 in three car journeys in London could be fully automated by 2025.
Car manufacturer Ford is also joining the Greenwhich-based consortium to simulate how driverless cars and ride-sharing could exist in the borough as well as come up with a 12-month plan for driverless transportation.
This new initiative, funded by the UK government's Innovate UK program, puts Addison Lee into a space that was previously dominated by US companies such as Google and Tesla. Ford has also become heavily involved in the space in recent years, investing $1 billion into Argo AI, a company that aims to produce software for a new generation of cars.
"Today we will do 30,000 trips in London and all our data and information can be used to simulate demand and supply availability." Addison Lee CEO, Andy Boland told the Telegraph. "Someone developing autonomous vehicles in California doesn't mean it will be five years ahead of London."
This push from Addison Lee to work with the UK government comes as Uber is in the middle of a controversy of London after having been denied the extension of their licence in the capital. It is estimated that Uber has near 40,000 drivers in London, 10 times the amount that Addison Lee does.
The Merge Greenwhich project is set to function by having Ford provide its insights into developing driverless cars whilst leaning on data from Addison Lee to better simulate demand. In previous statements, Ford had indicated that it wanted to have driverless cars in place by 2021 and be able to licence the technology to other manufacturers. This recently led to them partnering with ride-sharing startup Lyft to accelerate distribution.
London isn't the first city getting involved in the driverless car movement as Tokyo already hopes to introduce such automation in time for its 2020 Olympics, a common goal that they share with Honda.