The new development in London might lead to the members of the public being able to summon a completely driverless car in less than two years. This amazing possibility is due to the fact that the government has finally allowed and even supported the tests of these driverless cars.
£12.8m were given to the group researching self-driving tech by the Department for Business and Transport.
Cambridge-based AI company called FiveAI is currently developing this trial in cooperation with the University of Oxford, Direct Line, as well as the Transport Research Laboratory and Transport For London.
As far as we know, the plan is to demonstrate a completely operational driverless vehicle, as well as the ability to order a ride via the simple smartphone app, with insurance and safety protocols also being included. This demonstration is supposed to happen somewhere in the third quarter of 2019. FiveAI’s chief executive, Stan Boland, has stated that 10 electric cars will be used and that the cars will be able to replace those who regularly drive to work.
The UK government has decided to make this research a pillar of their industrial strategy, and their plan is to make the UK a leading party on this front of self-driving cars.
As for FiveAI, it’s a small company based in Cambridge, and their plan is to continue raising money privately. They wish to grow, expand and to go from the current 20 staff to 120 if possible, during the course of the next two years. Of course, they’ve already been testing cars on private properties, and it’s expected that they’ll soon fully graduate rural roads. After that achievement, they’ll start addressing the more complex environments, like urban situations.
Some people, like a former chief executive of Acorn Computers, Mr. Boland, expect that this technology and the ability of vehicles to autonomously navigate the roads could eventually even replace the current practice of car ownership.
He said that “It’s about delivering to the consumer an autonomous Uber-type service in London. It’s insane for people to buy a car and then leave it parked for 94% of the time and only have one user per car, in the future vehicles can be shared.”
Of course, this is just one project of only one company that’s trying to get an opportunity to get their technology tested. Many other attempts are also expected to be made by various companies in the near future. Mr. Boland claims that the fact that such a small company managed to make a name for themselves and create such advanced technology (with giants like Uber and Google being out there) only because there are such large numbers of experts on AI on the UK’s universities.