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August 14, 2018updated 04 Jan 2019 4:45pm

Driverless cars in London move a step closer to reality

By Priya Kantaria

In a key milestone towards introducing artificially intelligent driverless cars in London, five data-gathering cars will be driving through the Boroughs of Bromley and Croydon this year.

This is the first time the data-gathering fleet has been launched at scale in Europe and is part of FiveAI’s plan to bring a supervised but driverless car trial to London next year.

Ben Peters, co-founder and VP Product at FiveAI, said: “This data gathering phase is a vitally important step towards making [driverless cars] a reality.”

Data gathering for driverless cars in London

The 10-month plan will develop a comprehensive understanding of the road environment and behaviour of road users including drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

At this stage, the data-gathering cars will be driven by fully trained safety drivers, and the cars will be clearly branded.

Peters said they believe autonomous vehicles will be many times safer than human drivers and can reduce congestion, emissions, incidents and the cost and time of journeys.

The software brain behind the driverless cars must be robust and must be aware of other road users and their likely actions.

The cars themselves must drive in a way that humans can expect and reasonably predict.

The driverless car service will eventually be aimed at individuals who drive as part of their daily commute.

FiveAI was founded in 2015 and aims to use UK talent in AI, machine learning and policy and regulation in the transport sector.

It has teams in Cambridge, Bristol, London, Edinburgh and Oxford and works across Europe.

Recent research in AI has made the autonomous technology behind the cars possible.

In 2017 FiveAI closed a £14m equity financing round, considered the largest single venture funding for any European driverless technology startup.

The round was led by Lakestar Capital and involved all of FiveAI’s existing investors, Amadeus Capital Partners, Notion Capital and Kindred.