Mobility start-up Imperium Drive is trialling an on-demand driverless car-hailing service in Milton Keynes.
The Fetch project will allow users to book an unmanned vehicle via an app, the car is then remote-controlled to the chosen location. Customers can drive the car to their destination, before the remote vehicle operator once more takes over and pilots the vehicle, either back to base or the next user.
Using 5G connectivity, the vehicles are equipped with Imperium Drive’s proprietary remote driving software. A range of vehicles will be used in the trial including standard saloons and electric microcars.
Currently, the trials will take place on private routes under controlled conditions. Imperium Drive plans to include public trails in the next 12 months. The London-based company said the service represents the first step towards fully autonomous vehicles operating on UK roads, with the goal to transition to full autonomy for car deliveries in the next five years.
Koosha Kaveh, CEO of Imperium Drive, said: “For many people, public transport is cheap but inconvenient, while ride-hailing and taxis are convenient but also expensive.
“Our goal is to make on-demand door-to-door transport more cost-effective and convenient than every alternative, even privately owned cars.
“With Fetch, users hail a car to their doorstep and within minutes can be on their way, driving themselves to their destination in their own time and at their convenience. They don’t even have to worry about parking when they get there.”
Additionally, Imperium Drive believe remote-driving can benefit fleet operators in both the car-sharing and short-term rental sector as it increases revenue per car. The technology enables operators to quickly transport cars to users during peak periods, maximising utilisation rates.
“There are real environmental benefits too, with the potential to greatly reduce the number of private cars on the road,” added Kaveh.