London-based start-up Imperium Drive has started trialling its on-demand, remote-operated autonomous ride-hailing service, named Fetch, in Milton Keynes.
As part of the trial, passengers are able to book a vehicle, which is controlled by a remote operator and driven to the chosen location. It is then unlocked via the app.
The operator then directs the car to the next customer, once the trip has been completed.
Every vehicle is equipped with the company’s own remote driving software, with a 5G network being used to monitor, connect and control each vehicle.
The company hopes to established a remotely-operated service for ride-hailing in the UK in the second half of 2022, with plans to move from this to vehicles with full autonomy within 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.
“There are real environmental benefits too, with the potential to greatly reduce the number of private cars on the road.
“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.”
The trial has been backed by Milton Keynes Council, private investment and the government’s ‘5G Create’ project, among others.