After securing $35 million to establish driverless car technology and a plan to develop a fleet of shared autonomous vehicles, Five AI, a UK-based startup, recently announced its first ever on-street trial.
The trial will involve a service intended for commuters in London’s outer boroughs of both Croydon and Bromley.
Set to kick off in late 2019, the trial begun with a data gathering activity that will take ten months.
The exercise allow FiveAI cars with drivers collect information regarding the movement of pedestrians, road conditions and various cars among other variables to aid in training its AI platform.
According to FiveAI’s Vice President of Product Ben Peters, the new trial will mark the first on-street endeavor from the United Kingdom-based startup, which has until now been testing its groundbreaking technology mainly in Bedfordshire, particularly at Milbrook Proving Ground, an automotive testing center.
Ben is also a co-founder of the startup and serves alongside other founders such as Simon Walker, John Redford, Steve Allpress and Stan Boland.
The news about FiveAI’s planned London Trial in 2019 comes at a time TechCrunch discovered that the startup is also intending to commence a new round of financing.
Although the $35 million raised by FiveAi to date is regarded as the highest amount of financing for a self-driving vehicle company in Europe, it is a modest amount when compared to other startups in China and the US for example.
Nevertheless, there is an opportunity in Europe, as it boasts numerous urban density roads, which are less likely to follow grid patterns.
Also, road names are mostly the reverse of clearly marked. Such aspects make Europe a tough obstacle to surmount even though it is one that a local company such as FiveAI may be willing to try.
Peters did not disclose the amount that FiveAI was gearing to raise in the new funding round or even about the investors.
However, he confirmed that the exercise would be that largest in the company’s history to date, as it aims to expand its trails to other cities across Europe.
At the moment, Croydon and Bromley might not be the most high-profile locations of London, particularly to those outside of England.
According to Peters, FiveAI is steering clear of Central London and instead opting to concentrate on the two boroughs for several reasons.
One of them being that the area affords the company some sympathetic lab rats or what he likes to call “friendly users”.
Furthermore, insurance company Direct Line, a FiveAI partner, recently shifted its offices from Croydon to Bromley.
What this means is that there are some employees living in the former borough who have to commute to the new office location regularly.
In turn, FiveAI gets a chance to create a service that is specially customized to match the needs of that market.