Like many other places around the globe, London streets recently became a testbed for self-driving vehicles. Autonomous taxis were part of a week-long trial conducted by the DRIVEN autonomous vehicle technology consortium.
The taxis went up a down a pre-determined route through Stratford right near Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. While the cars are level 4 (able to operate without human intervention), there was a safety official inside the vehicles as a precaution.
London Self-Driving Taxis Used Oxbotica Software
The test cars were a collection of modified Ford Mondeos equipped with Selenium software from Oxford-based autonomous vehicle company Oxbotica. Selenium acts as the brain of the self-driving vehicle. It takes data from onboard sensors to help make decisions and navigate the roads.
Oxbotica’s vehicles are also connected to Caesium, a cloud-based fleet management system which co-ordinates multiple vehicles and allows them to exchange data without human interaction.
Members of Public Allowed to be Passengers
According to the DRIVEN consortium, the goal of the tests was to show autonomous vehicles can operate smoothly, safely and legally in a congested city like London. Members of the public were allowed to be passengers in the self-driving taxis as they went around Stratford.
“The completion of the DRIVEN project marks a significant milestone for the future of autonomous vehicles in the UK. Establishing Britain as a world leader for innovative technologies has been at the heart of our mission and we’re incredibly proud of the steps we have taken to help make AVs a reality on our roads,” said Dr. Graeme Smith, DRIVEN program director and Oxbotica senior vice president of external affairs.
No word on when autonomous vehicles will become a permanent fixture on London’s streets, but the UK expects fully self-driving vehicles on roads by 2021.