Frequently asked questions

What is Five?

Five is a venture-funded UK company based in London, Cambridge, Oxford, Bristol, Edinburgh and Millbrook.

We believe that the benefits of self-driving technology will improve the lives of millions of people across the world by making mobility safer, quicker, cheaper, greener and more accessible.

We are developing self-driving software and development platforms that will make that possible. We have assembled some of the best minds in AI, engineering and mobility to do it.

We have already built and learned a huge amount from a complete, high-functioning system that has been trialled on London’s public roads.

Armed with that knowledge, we are now focused on:

  • Building a modular, cloud-based platform that delivers performance and scale for system development and assurance.
  • Delivering advanced online components that address the most under-solved challenges in self-driving systems.

What does ‘fully self-driving’ mean?

A fully self-driving system is one that’s been designed to operate without a human driver. This means the system can steer, brake, accelerate, respond to events, determine when to change lanes, turn and use signals, and more. The system can also bring the vehicle to a safe stop when needed. This set of abilities is referred to as the entire ‘Dynamic Driving Task’.

At Five, our self-driving system integrates our own self-driving software and hardware into a base vehicle. Using the SAE International definitions of driving automation, the self-driving system we’re designing can operate at Level 4. This means it is capable of performing the entire ‘Dynamic Driving Task’ under certain defined conditions, such as in specific geographic areas and weather conditions.

Ultimately, in the future, we want our system to operate at Level 5, meaning it’ll be capable of performing the entire ‘Dynamic Driving Task’ under all the road and environmental conditions that can be managed by a human driver.

You’ll also see self-driving vehicles referred to as ‘driverless vehicles’ and ‘autonomous vehicles’ (AVs). These descriptions are often used interchangeably to describe different degrees of self-driving capability, including systems that are not fully self-driving.

Why do we need self-driving vehicles?

There are many useful applications of self-driving technology, such as adaptive cruise control, lane keeping systems and automatic parking that can help humans become better and safer drivers. These systems are often referred to as ‘semi-autonomous’, ‘partial’ or ‘conditional’ automation, ‘Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS)’, or SAE International ‘Level 2’ or ‘Level 3’.

In the long term, the most wide ranging and revolutionary application is for SAE International ‘Level 4’ and, in time, ‘Level 5’ services to be deployed widely across our towns and cities.

In that scenario, when software ‘drivers’ are put to work as a shared service, the potential benefits could be huge - for everyone. Getting around will be:

Safer: Safety can be significantly improved by tech that’s verified as being as safe as, if not safer than a human. Not to mention the tech will never get tired, drunk, distracted or emotional.

Quicker: By increasing seat occupancy per journey, our gridlocked cities can function again, easing congestion and enabling people from all walks of life to move freely, quickly and safely.

Cheaper: A low cost, on-demand service will benefit direct users as they travel, as well as benefiting everyone moving about the city – pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, passengers on tubes, metros, buses and more.

Greener: Crucially, it will be great news for the environment, too. With fewer vehicles - that should also be electric - we can significantly lower pollution to protect the health of city dwellers and the future of our planet. Fewer resources will be wasted in manufacturing, assembling, parking and disposing of personal vehicles, too.

More productive: Everyone will be more connected to employment, key public services, culture, friends and family. Time and energy will be freed up, so city dwellers can work smarter and get more out of life.

More accessible: Citizens with access needs, such as wheelchair users, partially sighted or elderly people will also benefit from being able to get around easier.

I've seen Five's vehicles on public roads. What are they doing?

Right now, you can see our vehicles being driven both manually and autonomously on selected public roads in Bedfordshire, and in London. We’re manually driving cars to collect data including information about road layout, road user behaviour and demand patterns. This activity gives us unprecedented degrees of insight into the local environment.

The data gathered will be used solely to develop our self-driving vehicle technology. Data will be collected, processed and stored in full compliance with UK and EU law including the GDPR, and will not be used in conjunction with any other datasets which could be used to identify individuals, or for any other purpose.

The data gathered, which ensures the vehicles are matched with the environment they will need to operate in, together with sophisticated sensor technology, will help the cars operate safely while being tested in autonomous mode.

We are testing in autonomous mode, predominantly in Bromley and Croydon. In every case, a highly trained, human safety driver is sitting at the wheel of each vehicle.

Activities take place at different times of the day and night. Rigorous safety practices govern all of Five’s operations and trained safety drivers will be present in the vehicle at all times, ready to take control if required. The vehicles are distinctive, with a visible sensor array installed on the roof, and are clearly branded to ensure transparency.

Our public road activities are managed by our team, and involve Five employees as well as other key partners. Before undertaking these activities, we assessed the roads for safety as part of a careful process that included working with the police and local authorities. These safety assessments are ongoing, and we continue to collaborate with the right people to ensure everyone’s safety.

What happened to the StreetWise trials?

We have recently completed the UK’s most advanced commuter research trials in partnership with TRL, Direct Line Group and other StreetWise partners. The research report should be available soon.

If I encounter a self-driving vehicle on the road, what should I do?

Simply behave normally, with the same caution and care as if it were a vehicle driven by a human.

How does Five select and train safety drivers?

We carefully screen potential safety drivers to ensure only people with significant driving experience and excellent driving histories are selected. All Five safety drivers must pass a comprehensive, specially-designed training programme before they can supervise our self-driving vehicles on public roads. This training includes extensive testing at our dedicated test track.

We believe in continuous improvement, so we regularly review our safety drivers and training programme to make our operations even safer.

How many miles of testing has Five completed?

We don’t currently publish data relating to our testing.

What are you doing to ensure your self-driving technology is safe for everyone on the roads?

Safety is at the heart of everything we do. Our research-backed safety strategy sets us apart, and we’re supporting government with globally leading research and recommendations on regulation and verification.

Our activities are all governed by a comprehensive safety case approved by TRL – the UK-based, globally-renowned, independent transport research and consultancy service specialising in road and vehicle safety. This safety case also complies with the Department for Transport’s Code of Practice for testing. Our safety case outlines all potential hazards and risks, describes how we’re controlling them, and explains the processes we have in place to ensure they’re effectively and consistently controlled.

Our self-driving system undergoes rigorous testing on our dedicated private track before any activity takes place on public roads. And before we go out on public roads, we work with the relevant authorities, including the police and local authorities, to assess and ensure safety.

All our vehicles are supervised by a human safety driver when in autonomous mode, in line with current UK legal requirements. The safety driver is responsible for making decisions about safety if the system encounters a scenario that’s outside of its capabilities. They’re also responsible for taking any action based on these decisions. All our safety drivers are trained and tested to ensure they’re familiar with any and all limitations of our self-driving system.

Finally, we are working with Government and other partners to help put in place an independently verified certification framework for autonomous vehicles.

How will Five’s vehicles make decisions about safety when they encounter hazards on the road?

All our vehicles are supervised by a human safety driver when in autonomous mode, in line with current UK legal requirements. The safety driver is responsible for making decisions about safety if the system encounters a scenario that’s outside of its capabilities. They’re also responsible for taking any action based on these decisions. All our safety drivers are trained and tested to ensure they’re familiar with any and all limitations of our self-driving system.

In the future, our self-driving system will make its own decisions when it encounters hazards on the road. We will ensure the highest safety standards and, at every stage, we’ll design our system to comply with all relevant regulations.

What are you doing to ensure Five’s system is cyber secure?

As part of our rigorous commitment to safety, we design and operate our self-driving system with guidance from the UK government’s Key Principles of Cyber Security for Connected and Automated Vehicles.

What data do Five’s vehicles record and will Five release data if an incident takes place?

All our activities comply with the Department for Transport’s Code of Practice for testing. This includes our approach to recording data and working with the relevant authorities in the event of an investigation.

Does Five publish its safety case?

Our safety case outlines potential hazards and risks, describes how we’re controlling them, and explains the processes we have in place to ensure they’re effectively and consistently controlled. We don’t currently publish our safety case.

We’re committed to furthering safety for all. Our safety case has been approved by TRL – a UK-based, globally-renowned, independent transport research and consultancy service specialising in road and vehicle safety. It also complies with the Department for Transport’s Code of Practice for testing.

We work with the police and local authorities in locations where we plan to conduct activities on public roads.

What’s the legal basis for Five’s public road activities?

In 2015 the UK Department for Transport published The Pathway to Driverless Cars: A detailed review of regulations for automated vehicle technologies. The review found that driverless vehicles can be legally tested on public roads in the UK today, providing a safety driver is present and able to take responsibility for the safe operation of the vehicle. The vehicle must also be used in a manner compatible with road traffic law.

What’s Five’s data policy?

You can read our privacy notice here.

Is Five’s sensor suite safe?

All our sensors are safe and pose no hazard to human health.

Are Five’s activities insured?

Our activities are underwritten by Direct Line Group – the UK’s largest retail general insurer.

How do I join the Five team?

We’re home to the best minds in AI research, engineering, and mobility, including world leaders and rising stars. If you’re interested in a purposeful, fast-paced career here at FiveAI, take a look at our current openings. No agencies please.

How can I stay up to date with the latest Five news?

Follow us on Twitter, Medium and Linkedin.

How can I report a concern?

Please email service@five.ai

How can I contact Five about something else?

Please email info@five.ai