Look, no hands! Driverless taxi carries passenger on a British street for the first time
- The cars, run by UK-based company FiveAI, will follow a set 11.8-mile (19km) loop
- The adapted Ford Mondeos will have to have drivers in case of an emergency
- Trials are expected to last for two months with 130 invited volunteers involved
- FiveAI has received almost £13million in government funding to run the project
Driverless cars are being tested in the south of London by a company which won’t reveal where they will be.
FiveAI is today beginning road tests of its self-driving technology in the boroughs of Bromley and Croydon.
The company says its cars will be ferrying commuters around the boroughs for the next two months, but hasn’t released any details of the 12-mile loop they’ll use.
They will be making more than three journeys per day on ‘multiple’ days per week, the company told MailOnline, but it wouldn’t give any more specifics.
At least two people will be in the car at all times – a back-up driver, a technician and sometimes a volunteer commuter – in case something goes wrong.
But the cars will be driving themselves in real-world conditions, with two on the road together during test times.
There are safety concerns after a 49-year-old mother-of-two died last year in Arizona when she was hit by a self-driving Uber Volvo at 38mph after it didn’t attempt to brake.
FiveAI’s trials will test the company’s self-driving software on real, busy roads in London. Volunteers will be taken to work by the cars, which still have to have a driver in in case something goes wrong
FiveAI has now started two months of regular trials with human passengers to test how the cars react in real traffic situations.
They will have trained drivers inside in case something goes wrong, but the cars are scheduled to drive themselves in the boroughs of Croydon and Bromley.
A total of 130 volunteer commuters will take part in the ongoing project, which will see the cars – adapted versions of Ford Mondeos – face real-life problems.
The cars began initial trials in April and FiveAI is now rolling out a bigger testing program on London’s roads.
This is the first time the cars will have commuters – believed to be employees of the Direct Line insurance company – inside them.
Streetwise, the project behind the car trials, is using more than £12million in government funding to test its technology, The Telegraph reported.
The cars are being tested on public roads but the details of the routes they’re taking have been kept confidential
The cars will be tested on an 11.8mile (19km) loop through the London boroughs of Bromley and Croydon, but the company would not reveal specifics of the route
HOW DID AN UBER AUTONOMOUS VEHICLE HIT AND KILL A WOMAN IN ARIZONA?
A self-driving Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in the first death involving a fully autonomous test vehicle on March 19, 2018.
The accident prompted the ride-hailing company to suspend road-testing of such cars in the US and Canada.
The Volvo SUV was in self-driving mode with a human back-up operator behind the wheel in Tempe when a woman walking a bicycle was hit.
Elaine Herzberg, 49, died in hospital.
Police have said that the victim, 49 year old Elaine Herzberg, stepped out in front of the car suddenly and they do not believe the car was to blame.
Uber suspended its self-driving vehicle testing in the Phoenix area, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.
The testing has been going on for months as car makers and technology companies compete to be the first with cars that operate on their own.
Uber’s self-driving car crash that led to the death of a mother-of-two could have been avoided, driverless vehicle experts have claimed.
Cortica, a firm that develops artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles, has analysed the dash cam video.
The company concludes the car, which failed to brake or swerve before the collision, had enough time to react and potentially save Ms Herzberg’s life.
Speaking to CNET, Cortica’s CEO Igal Raichelgauz said the firm’s self-driving AI system detected Ms Herzberg 0.9 seconds before impact.
At this point the car was around 50 feet (15 metres) away.
He said the autonomous car’s cameras and radar system should have had enough time to pick up the pedestrian and react to the situation.
Driverless cars are fitted with a system of cameras, radar and lidar sensors that allow them to ‘see’ their surroundings and detect traffic, pedestrians and other objects.
An AI computer system then decides what actions the car takes to avoid a collision – a setup that is supposed to work as well at night as during the day.
A top executive for the maker of Lidar sensors used on Uber’s self-driving car said she was ‘baffled’ as to why the vehicle failed to recognise Ms Herzberg.
The cars will drive on a set circuit 11.8miles (19km) long and will pick up and drop off their passengers at unknown set locations – no details of the route have been revealed.
Research earlier this year found drivers in London travel at an average speed of 7mph, so it could take the cars around 1hr 41mins to complete the loop.
The roads they’re being tested on have a maximum speed of 30mph.
Grant Shapps MP, the Secretary of State for Transport, said: ‘The untapped potential of self-driving vehicle technology is huge.
‘It could enhance road safety, tackle isolation, and create economic opportunities.
‘StreetWise’s successful trial will be a major step to rolling out the next phase of the UK’s transport revolution.’
The trials will allow FiveAI’s technology to ‘learn’ routes around the area and to get used to reacting to its sensors in real-world situations.