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

The figures are contained in a 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 an agency sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Overall, an autonomous vehicle 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% of the total transport market by value – worth around £3.5bn at today’s rates, a huge potential in this sector. This will definitely put London at the forefront of mobility development, nationally and globally. Supporting this initiative, 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.

The challenge is developing a future business and operating model to integrate autonomous vehicles, 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 autonomous vehicle ride-sharing services could contribute to and enhance the new mobility vision for London.

With the advent of connected and autonomous vehicles, there is indeed an opportunity to redefine transport in London. 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 London roads – helping the environment and especially improving road safety.