Driverless cars – How will they affect London’s minicab and taxi industry?



Kabbee Hosts Industry Roundtable on Driverless Vehicles in London

In September 2014, Kabbee hosted an industry-first roundtable which brought together some of the most influential names in the private hire & taxi sector to discuss the development of driverless cars and what they mean for the industry. As Kabbee represents over 70 of London’s leading licensed fleets, its senior management team was well-placed to address and lead a discussion around the subject.

Who attended?

  • Justin Peters, Founder and CEO Kabbee
  • Phil Makinson, Kabbee Co-Founder
  • Chris Lamontagne, Head of Growth, GetTaxi
  • Steve McNamara, General Manager, LTDA
  • Sean McGrath, Owner, Airport Direct (minicab fleet)
  • Helen Chapman, Deputy Director of London Taxis and Private Hire, Transport for London (TfL)
  • Nick Collins, Transport Correspondent, Daily Telegraph
  • Nicola Rosa, minicab and black cab user
  • Chairman – David LG Hearn

What interesting points did the discussion reveal?  Here’s what the attendees discussed:

  • Stakeholders believe the biggest challenge for driverless cars to be implemented successfully will be gaining the confidence of the people that are expected to ride in them.
  • Why are driverless cars coming before driverless buses? They would surely be easier to develop as they take the same route all the time.
  • It would be better to test driverless cars in the logistics and delivery industry, rather than with passengers on-board.  It would be less risk, and would mean high volumes of tests can be done in a short space of time.

What are the issues? The stakeholders said:

  • Effective satellite navigation technology is critical, as opposed to essentially driverless technology.  Satellite navigation is still not yet fool-proof.
  • It’s important to choose the correct size of vehicle to ensure system efficiency.
  • There are two sets of issues. The technological issues, and then practical issues, such as drunk people in the early hours, getting locked inside, and vandalism – all those really basic things, which if not solved cannot ensure passenger safety. For example, what’s the incentive to treat the cars with respect?

Can the minicab and taxi sector benefit from driverless cars now and in the future?

  • Operator efficiency/increased income could come from being able to do more things at the same time (sitting at home and controlling 2/3 driverless cars at a time).
  • In the longer term, driverless vehicles will drive costs down, so that volumes go up, meaning there’s more work for the provision of transport.
  • A fixed journey model would work best.
  • There is a potential to eventually differentiate products – a meeting room on wheels.

What’s next?

The majority of industry representatives who attended the roundtable have now formed a longer-term driverless cars steering group, to ensure that the sector is well-represented in all decisions around enhancements in London.  Justin Peters, Founder and CEO of Kabbee, is keen to host such industry roundtables on a regular basis, to run discussion sessions on any topics / developments that may have a future effect on the industry.

Want to know more about what matters to Kabbee, or want to suggest a good topic for discussion? – we’d love to hear from you! Email us at Kabbee@sensecommunications.co.uk

The Kabbee Team.

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