No Drone Zone

Future Transport

Start date: 01 August 2017
End date: 02 October 2017

Key Questions

  1. How effectively does TfL plan for the possible largescale adoption of new technology?
  2. Does TfL have the powers it needs to deliver fair and accessible transport services in a more technologically advanced future?
  3. What is the likely extent of the introduction of autonomous vehicles in London in the next ten years?
  4. Will TfL consider introducing autonomous buses?
  5. Do drones and droids have significant potential to reduce the level of delivery traffic on the roads?
  6. What are the specific safety hazards arising from the widespread use of pavement-based droids?
  7. How will access to airspace for drones be managed, if at all, and by whom?
  8. What regulation is needed to ensure drones and droids are used safely?
  9. What are the next steps in developing app-based transport technologies?
  10. How should TfL and the Mayor manage dockless cycle hire shemes?

Our investigation

The most prominent technological developments are those that could change the way people use London’s roads, or change the street environment in London generally. We consider these to be new car technology, particularly autonomous vehicles, and app-enabled mobility services. In addition we will consider drone and droid technology, as these have the potential to disrupt the delivery sector, which is a significant contributor to congestion.

The timescale our investigation will consider is roughly the same as the Mayor’s Transport Strategy – until 2041.

Autonomous Vehicles

An autonomous vehicle is one equipped with technology that allows it to operate without the need of active control or supervision on behalf of the driver. A further stage is the ‘connected’ vehicle, which can communicate with other vehicles. These vehicles are being tested in various locations including London. It has been estimated they could be commercially available around 2025-2030.

Autonomous vehicles could use road space more effectively than traditional cars. They can drive closer together, and do not necessarily need to be parked near to where the occupants are dropped off. They may also be safer, by reducing the prospect of human error causing road collisions.

Drones and Droids

Autonomous delivery vehicles in the air (drones) and on the ground (droids) have the potential to transform the way some items are transported around London. Many companies, including Amazon, Google, DHL and UPS are already trialling parcel delivery by drone in the UK and across the world. At present drones are mainly used to deliver to remote areas, but this may change.

For instance, Amazon is aiming to roll out drone delivery in the UK in 2018.

MaaS, apps and data

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is the overarching term for mobility solutions that are ‘consumed’ as services rather than owned by individuals. MaaS describes the shift from ownership to ‘usership’. The difference between MaaS services and existing public transport services is that MaaS users will not have to give up the benefits (such as flexibility and convenience) of ownership.

The hope is that MaaS transport solutions will allow users to plan, personalise and purchase their required services from a single user account. An example of this is the Whim app, which has launched in Helsinki, Finland and will soon begin trialling in the West Midlands, UK.

Get involved

We are keen to hear from technology companies and investors, road users, organisations delivering services on roads, businesses, London boroughs and national councils, campaigners, transport experts and anyone else with an interest in this topic.

To contribute, please send submissions to the Committee by the deadline of 2 October 2017 using these details:

Email submissions - [email protected]

Postal submissions - Richard Berry, London Assembly, City Hall, The Queen’s Walk, London SE1 2AA

We will publish written submissions online unless they are marked as confidential or there is a legal reason for non-publication. We may be required to release a copy of your submission under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, even if it has been marked as confidential.