Autonomous ride-sharing services could account for a third of all trips by private drivers in London by 2025, according to a consortium investigating ways to integrate new technology into the city’s public transport network.

Experts predict that 34 per cent of private drivers’ journeys could be replaced, while up to 30 per cent of taxi and private hire journeys could also be served by Autonomous Vehicle (AV) ride-sharing.

The figures - extrapolated from studies carried out in Los Angeles and Boston, together with the London Travel Demand Survey – are contained in initial research from the MERGE Greenwich consortium, a group of six partners undertaking a year-long project to study how autonomous vehicle ride-sharing can work and connect with London’s transport network.

The consortium is backed by funding from Innovate UK – an agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Overall, an AV ride-sharing service could serve up to one in seven of all trips within London within eight years, equivalent to 2.5m trips per day, and take up to 25 per cent of the total transport market by value – worth around £3.5bn at today’s rates.

“The idea that one-in-three London car journeys could be replaced by autonomous vehicles by 2025 shows the huge potential in the sector,” said Andy Boland, Addison Lee’s CEO.

The MERGE Greenwich consortium is led by Addison Lee Group and involves mobility experts Ford, TRL, Transport Systems Catapult, DG Cities and Immense Simulations.

Paul McCabe, Addison Lee Group’s Director of Mobility, said: “With some of the brightest British automotive and ground transport brains involved, the MERGE Greenwich partnership will pave the way for autonomous vehicles on the streets of London at scale, to provide significantly improved transport.

“This will put London at the forefront of mobility development, globally.”

It comes as an exciting future of autonomous cars on British roads moves a step closer with the Addison Lee-led MERGE Greenwich consortium securing funding from the Government’s national innovation agency to help take the country to the forefront of mobility innovation.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has also put the need to reduce the number of cars on the capital’s roads at the heart of his transport strategy.

So, what exactly will the project deliver?

  • A plan on how autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing will integrate into public transport systems, focused on the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
  • Advanced simulation and analysis to demonstrate how this integrated solution can benefit consumers, society and the environment.
  • Ideas on how to improve the efficiency of the way we travel around cities and how to reduce total vehicle journeys and reduce emissions.
  • Key requirements for a vehicle which will be optimal for an AV ride-sharing service.
  • A review of customer barriers to adoption and design considerations to overcome them.
  • A detailed commercial and business model to show how this service and AV technology can be brought to market.

Working from the Smart Mobility Living Lab: London, the project will develop a future business and operating model to integrate AVs, ride-sharing and existing transport into truly multi-modal transport system. From this, the next stage could be conducting real-world testing to see how AV ride-sharing services could contribute to and enhance the new mobility vision for London.

Trevor Dorling, Director of DG Cities explained: “With the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles, there is now an opportunity to redefine transport in our cities and towns. Offering modern, flexible and responsive mobility services that can be shared by the public is likely to reduce the cost to the consumer, reduce the number of journeys and vehicles on our roads - helping the environment and improving road safety. DG Cities looks forward to being a part of this project and sharing the key lessons learnt with other cities in the UK and overseas.”

Innovate UK’s Chief Executive Ruth McKernan added: “Successful industry-led R&D projects will further spearhead UK development of low emission, and connected and autonomous vehicle technology. This builds on our world-leading research and innovation capability in this area and the significant strength of UK businesses both large and small in this field.”

The consortium partners bring a crucial and complementary set of assets and knowledge to the MERGE Greenwich programme:

  • Addison Lee Group provides real world commercial knowledge of operating a large fleet on a global scale, which enables the MERGE Greenwich project to accelerate the validation of the AV ride-sharing model beyond any previous project.
  • Ford brings expertise to develop vehicle requirements fit for purpose in an AV ride-sharing model and DG Cities will ensure that the AV model is compatible with the Borough’s needs and objectives, and will explore how services can be integrated with the city and existing public transport.
  • The operating model, vehicle requirements and city-integration know-how will be combined with the extensive simulation and modelling capability of Immense Simulations, TRL and Transport Systems Catapult.
  • MERGE Greenwich will develop a world first, custom-designed blueprint which showcases the UK’s cutting edge mobility capability.

Download the full report here.



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