London based taxi firm Addison Lee has joined forces with self-driving software specialist Oxbotica, and says the tie-up means it will offer self-driving taxis in the capital by 2021.
The move will pit it against rival ride-hailing app Uber, which is also planning to roll out driverless cars on its network in the future, pending regulatory permission.
Addison Lee says it will now work with Oxbotica on digitally mapping public roads in and around the British capital.
The detailed maps will record the position of kerbs, road signs and traffic lights in preparation for autonomous cars.
Addison boss Andy Boland said it hopes to offer shared minibus shuttles to passengers, to use to get to work, to study or to the airport.
He said the technology would help the firm “address congestion, free space used for parking and improve urban air quality”.
The industry has been forecast to be worth £28bn in the UK by 2035.
Boland said he wanted Addison Lee to be at the “forefront” of the shift to self-driving cars.
The firm, which is owned by private equity giant Carlyle, reported a £20.8m annual loss in its most recent results to August last year.
It blamed investment on transforming “from a London private hire business to a global premium ground transport provider” for the disappointing performance.