On-demand car-hailing service ‘The Fetch’ has launched a pilot scheme in Milton Keynes.

The Fetch trial is operated by British start-up Imperium Drive. It enables users to summon an unmanned vehicle via an app, which is driven by a remote driver to their location.

Once it arrives ate the customer’s location, the customer then drives the car normally to their destination. From here a remote vehicle operator takes over again and pilots the car back to base or to the next user.

A taxi, but not as we know it…

It’s a service that provides the same convenience as a taxi or ride hailing service, combined with car rental. Imperium For trips of up to a couple of hours, it provides the ability to cover greater distances but at less than half the cost of services like Uber or Bolt.

“For many people, public transport is cheap but inconvenient,” says Koosha Kaveh, CEO of Imperium Drive. “While ride-hailing and taxis are convenient, they are also expensive.”

The future

Kaveh continues: “Our goal is to make on-demand door-to-door transport more cost-effective and convenient than every alternative, even privately owned cars.

“There are real environmental benefits too, with the potential to greatly reduce the number of private cars on the road.

The Fetch system allows users hail a car to their doorstep and within minutes can be on their way. It provides the added convenience of allowing customers driving themselves to their destination, in their own time and at their convenience.

“They don’t even have to worry about parking when they get there.”

Autonomy and autonomous

Imperium Drive says remote driving can increase revenue per car. It allows operators to relocate cars more quickly at periods of high demand, such as during rush hour. This is key to maximising utilisation rates.

Remote driving technology is already being trialled in other countries, but this is the first application in the UK. It features a variety of vehicle types including standard saloon cars to electric microcars.

The technology uses 5G connectivity. It enables remote operators to switch between controlling different cars when required. A trial fleet is currently operating on private routes, and this ill be extended to include public roads in the next 12 months. The aim is to launch a fully operational remote-operated car-hailing service in the UK in the second half of 2022.

Imperium believes the service represents the first step towards fully autonomous vehicles operating on UK roads. With this in mind, the company aims to transition to full autonomy in the next five years.