Driverless Robo-Taxis Set to Launch in UK Cities Within Three Years

Driverless robo-taxis, known as Verne, are expected to hit the streets of major UK cities within the next three years. Designed by Adriano Mudri, Verne is a radical self-driving cab that offers a spacious interior with no steering wheel, pedals, or dashboard. Instead, passengers can enjoy a 43-inch screen for entertainment purposes, such as playing Xbox or watching movies. The two-seat electric hatchback aims to provide a comfortable and living room-like experience.

Verne’s design focuses on accommodating one or two passengers, as statistics show that the majority of rides involve a small number of people. The car will be available for booking through an app, allowing passengers to select the temperature and scent of the salon in advance. Verne vehicles will operate for 23.5 hours a day, with half an hour reserved for recharging. Each city will establish a “mothership” where the cars will be based, cleaned, and charged.

The cabin materials of Verne have been engineered to be lightweight yet durable enough to withstand an annual mileage of over 62,000 miles. The car’s sliding doors ensure smooth exits without obstructing traffic. Verne will utilize Mobileye technology, equipped with sensors such as lidar, radar, and cameras, to navigate safely. The system is designed with redundancy, allowing each component to function independently in case of a malfunction.

In related news, Waymo, a self-driving ride-hailing service owned by Google parent company Alphabet, is already operating in select US states. Waymo vehicles operate without a human driver and have faced scrutiny following incidents and collisions with stationary objects. Waymo functions similarly to an Uber app, with users setting their location and destination and waiting for a ride to be accepted. However, Waymo currently has a waiting list for interested users.

During a recent test drive in San Francisco, Waymo’s service demonstrated the potential of self-driving taxis. Waymo uses Jaguar I-PACE electric SUVs and operates within certain areas with speed limits of up to 65 mph. However, the waiting times for a Waymo ride were longer compared to traditional taxis or Uber, and the service was more expensive. Waymo’s vehicles strictly prohibit passengers from sitting in the driver’s seat or touching any controls.

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