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Ford and Addison Lee team up for London self-driving car trials

Ford and London taxi firm Addison Lee are joining forces to explore how driverless cars could be used for taxi and ride-sharing services in the UK capital.

A government-backed driverless car consortium, dubbed the Merge Greenwich project, will be led by Addison Lee, with Ford, the Transport Research Laboratory, the Transport System Catapult, DG Cities, and Immense Simulations making up the rest of the group.

Together the organisations will work together for 12 months to create a form of blueprint for how an autonomous driving system that’s open to the public could work in the crowded streets of London.

Through advanced simulation and modelling the Merge Greenwich project will replicate how transport moves around the Royal Borough of Greenwich today, which is already a hot bed for driverless vehicle testing, and see how self-driving cars could be mixed into existing public transport.

The consortium will focus on issues such as infrastructure and safety, while also considering the commercial and social impacts driverless cars could have on public transport. The Merge Greenwich project didn’t make it explicitly clear how much of this will take place as real-world testing or just simulation, but it’s worth noting that Ford already has plenty of experience testing autonomous vehicles on real worlds, so more driverless cars could soon be seen on Greenwich roads.

Either way, Addison Lee has big plans for the project.

“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,” said Paul McCabe, Addison Lee Group’s director of mobility.

Related: Who’s to blame when driverless cars get it wrong?

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