Self-Driving Taxis Tested in London

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.

Self-driving taxis London - YellRobot
credit: Oxbotica

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.

Check out our articles on Singapore’s cleaning robots and Walmart’s driverless vehicles