Self-Driving Taxis Could Hit London by 2021 and Cost Less Than Traditional Cab Rides

The goal is part of an initiative by cab supplier Addison Lee and tech firm Oxbotica.

English taxi company Addison Lee and autonomous tech developer Oxbotica have teamed up with plans of bringing fully self-driving cabs to the streets of London by 2021. According to The Guardian, the joint venture begins next month, as Oxbotica maps more than 250,000 miles of roads in and around London for crucial data. Addison Lee’s first autonomous offerings will likely be driverless shuttles for use around airports and corporate offices, with self-driving cabs to be developed as the next step.

In talks with The Guardian, Addison Lee CEO Andy Boland was adamant that development of autonomous cabs would not jeopardize the jobs of employed drivers in England. “Our 5,000 drivers in the U.K. are going to carry on doing what they are doing. For the foreseeable future, I would draw that distinction between premium services and technology opening those other sorts of services at a relevant price point.”

Addison Lee plans to use the presumably cheaper running costs of a driverless car and give customers a discount compared to the price of a standard cab. The company will also have the ability to utilize its already existing network of cars and service centers when the jump to autonomous technology is made.

“This represents a huge leap towards bringing autonomous vehicles into mainstream use on the streets of London, and eventually in cities across the United Kingdom and beyond,” CEO Graeme Smith said in an Oxbotica press release.

Oxbotica is already testing its technology on the streets of London and Oxford. If the partnership with Addison Lee is successful, the company plans to follow it up with autonomous development in “New York and other international markets.”