Several “large scale” robotaxi pilots are to be launched in Europe by the end of next year after two key automotive players signed an exclusive strategic partnership.

The partnership between electric vehicle manufacturer NEVS and autonomous car startup AutoX will see the latter’s artificial intelligence (AI) driver technology integrated into the former’s electric cars.

According to NEVS, the result will be a “revolutionary world-first new vehicle type” that will begin real-world testing next year, in what the company claims will be the first robotaxi pilots in the continent on a major scale.

The vehicle, which is currently under development in Trollhättan, Sweden, is intended to produce zero emissions, and will be available to hire 24/7. The companies ultimately plan to launch a network of these robotaxis across the world.

It is hoped that this will result in fewer vehicles sitting stationary between use, reducing congestion in cities while helping to improve air pollution.

Robotaxi pilots to see AutoX expand into Europe

Despite being less well known than high-profile driverless car companies such as Google’s Waymo, AutoX already has made considerable headway in the autonomous vehicle space.

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The company has already become the second organisation in the world to get permission to test its autonomous vehicles on roads in California.

It has also launched its xTaxi early rider programme in the state, which enables residents in some areas of San Jose and Santa Clara to begin using the vehicles.

The partnership with NEVS enables AutoX to access the European market using vehicles with strong sustainability credentials.

“AutoX enables companies like NEVS to become autonomous by creating an AI driver which is tailored to the specific geolocation it is in; adopting local driving styles, while also navigating in urban and dynamic conditions,” said Jianxiong Xiao, founder and CEO of AutoX.

“We are proud to start deploying our technology together with a global OEM that really takes the mobility revolution seriously.”

Read more: Future transport systems: 2030 to see dramatic rise in safety, choice and technology