Autonomous vehicle ride-sharing to merge with public transport

A year-long project is underway to study how autonomous vehicle ride-sharing can work and connect with London’s transport network.

Backed by Innovate UK, the MERGE Greenwich consortium – led by global fleet operator Addison Lee Group and including partners Ford, TRL, Transport Systems Catapult, DG Cities and Immense Simulations – expects to develop a world first, custom-designed blueprint that demonstrates Britain’s mobility capability.

“The MERGE Greenwich partnership will pave the way for autonomous vehicles on the streets of London at scale, to provide significantly improved transport,” said Paul McCabe, Addison Lee Group’s Director of Mobility. “This will put London at the forefront of mobility development, globally.”

The consortium believes that autonomous ride-sharing services could account for a third of all trips by private drivers in London by 2025, and a study predicts that 34 per cent of private drivers’ journeys could be replaced. Up to 30 per cent of taxi and private hire journeys could also be served by Autonomous Vehicle (AV) ride-sharing.

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, which is currently worth around £3.5bn.

“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 project is expected to generate:

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 TRL’s Smart Mobility Living Lab: London, the Greenwich-based project will develop a future business and operating model to integrate AVs, ride-sharing and existing transport into 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 said: “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.”