Anticipated uptake of Autonomous vehicle ride-sharing

The introduction of an Autonomous Vehicle (AV) ride-sharing service could transform the way passenger and goods trips are made. By integrating a new service alongside existing transport networks, AV ride-sharing could deliver significant benefits to cities and consumers by harnessing new technology and appealing to emerging customer trends.

This report explores what the potential market for AV ride-sharing could be, where the users might come from and what enablers will need to be in place for it to be successful.

Analysis by the MERGE Greenwich consortium indicates AV ride-sharing could reach 2.5 million passenger trips per day in London once the service by 2025, equivalent to one-in-seven total trips taken in the capital. Private car and taxi journeys are expected to see the biggest reduction, with roughly a third of both categories expected to be replaced by a ride-sharing programme.

In total, a ride-sharing service could be worth as much as £3.5bn of the total amount spent on transport in London each year at today’s rates.

The research also highlights some of the additional benefits of such a service, including the potential for small goods delivery and improved safety on public roads and environmental benefits, as well as the overwhelming public support for autonomous vehicles with almost 80 per cent backing such technology.

The MERGE Greenwich project comes at an exciting time, as the future of autonomous vehicles on Britain’s roads moves a step closer. It is one of a number of programmes, funded by government, which aim to put Britain at the forefront of mobility and transport technology innovation.

However, for AV ride-sharing to reach this level a service must be developed which can compete on price, convenience and availability. Whilst a new service will inevitably take some level of market share from other transport modes, the MERGE Greenwich project aims to show how AV ride-sharing can complement, rather than compete with, sustainable transport modes (public transport and active travel) and offer an alternative to privately owned vehicles.

With this in mind, this report examines distance and price offerings of multiple transport modes, with a focus on private car trips, to suggest ways in which the uptake of an AV ride-sharing service could have a positive impact on consumers and cities. The Mayor for London has stated that reducing the need to use cars will provide huge benefits for all Londoners2 and AV rideshare offers the opportunities to meet many of these objectives.

The two elements of “AV” and “ride-sharing” bring together the possibility of significant benefits to the consumer and transport authorities in the form of safety, greater accessibility, reduced parking and higher vehicle utilisation which could reduce congestion and emissions. However, the lack of a driver means secondary functions, such as assistance for passengers or goods, will need to be addressed in certain situations. Also, the success of a ride-sharing service depends upon a critical mass of users to ensure vehicles are available to passengers in the right location and at the right time. The MERGE Greenwich project will explore these considerations and other barriers which will need to be overcome in order for an AV ride-sharing service to realise the many potential benefits associated with this new technology.

This report outlines the potential uptake, opportunities and challenges of an AV ride-sharing service and is MERGE Greenwich’s first step towards simulating a full scale AV ride-sharing service, integrated with public transport.

Full results from the MERGE Greenwich project will be available in the summer of 2018. Readers of this report are invited to regularly track the project’s progress at www.mergegreenwich.com.

Download the full report