When you dream of the future of motoring, the driverless-car opportunities, the luxury of being picked up and driven completely effortlessly to your location, the destination is usually somewhere exotic, high-flying, luxurious. Not... Milton Keynes. The mecca of corporate headquarters, roundabouts, and that oddly placed indoor snow slope.
But MK, as the cool kids call it, is proving popular to the tech boffins of the world. Have you seen those little supermarket robots that patrol the streets delivering milk and bread by just the power of GPS? Gets the Just Eat cyclists off the road for a bit at least.
Now, British start-up Imperium Drive has started its trials of 'Fetch' - a car-hailing service that, instead of shipping out a Prius, sends a driverless car to pick you up. Well, we say 'driverless' - they're actually remote controlled by a driver back at the office. Like the driving theory test, but a bit more critical. To start with, there'll also be a stand-by driver in the cars, just in case.
MK is the perfect location for this due to its grid-type layout, acting as a Pacman-style base for sending cars up, down, left or right. Fetch is currently operating on private routes, but Imperium Drive aim to have the remote-controlled service fully operational by the second half of 2022.
Koosha Kaveh, CEO of Imperium Drive, said: "For many people, public transport is cheap but inconvenient, while ride-hailing and taxis are convenient but also expensive. Our goal is to make on-demand door-to-door transport more cost-effective and convenient than every alternative, even privately owned cars."
The company will work with car manufacturers to embed the software and operation into "a variety of vehicles", from small city cars to, supposedly, "commercial vehicles for highway driving." We'll pass on that one for now - just get us home from the pub safely, okay?