Smart Living

Meet the tech start-ups transforming your commute

The way we travel is changing. These five innovators are leading the way

News broke this week that travel app Citymapper is launching a London-based ride sharing service. A cross between Uber and the bus, the on-demand service is based on a Tube-like network of routes with fixed stops, and will consist of 8-person minibuses that you can book a seat on using the Citymapper app.

Although this week the service was limited to certain routes in central and east London, it will soon expand to the rest of the capital; in fact, it has a licence for up to 500 bus drivers already in place. With this innovation shaking up the status quo now’s the time to explore the other startups that are changing the way we travel.  

Future travel startups what3wordswhat3words

This geocoding startup is revolutionising how we locate ourselves and others. Founded by a trio of experts in computers, linguistics and logistics, what3words has divided the world into a grid of 3m x 3m squares and assigned each one a unique three word address. This means anyone can accurately find any location and share it more quickly, easily and with less ambiguity than any other system currently extant. It’s available to use in app form, but the system is increasingly being taken up by navigation, automotive and humanitarian organisations the world over, including Mercedes-Benz, Quiqup and the United Nations. Impressive stuff. 

FLIO future travelFLIO

If you’re a frequent flyer, you’ll know that navigating airports is usually the worst part of the trip. Luckily, startup app FLIO is changing that. Founded by digital entrepreneurs Stephan Uhrenbacher and Brian Collie, it offers all the airport information you could want in one place. Featuring in-depth real-time data about the moments of over 300 international airports, FLIO sends you flight tracking updates and detailed airport maps, as well as exclusive discounts and access to travel lounges. From finding wifi and phone charging docks to collecting air miles, we think it’s a pretty seamless solution to your airport woes.

Future travel startups Five AI


Driverless cars are all well and good in controlled situations and on test tracks. But what happens when you bring them into the real human world? Startup FiveAI is working on a solution. Founded by Stan Boland and John Redford, the company is using advanced artificial intelligence, including sensors, self-learning perception technology and motion planning, to create reliable software for autonomous vehicles that will enable driverless cars to stay safe in complex urban environments. In a nutshell, they’re creating car software that will mimic a human brain – scary, but cool.

Future travel startups Seat FrogSeat Frog

It’s a given that the golden age of train travel is far behind us – or is it? Seat Frog has found a way for ordinary travellers to relax in first class luxury with its groundbreaking app. Download it and you’ll gain access to a live seat auction up to two hours before your chosen train leaves, with the opportunity to upgrade your standard ticket to a first class one for as little as £5. Although it’s currently only available on Virgin East Coast trains when you book through their website, Seat Frog is planning to roll the system out nationwide soon. Goodbye cramped commuter carriages; hello, first class.

Future travel startups Oxbotica


This Oxford-based tech company is leading the way in the development of autonomous vehicles. Its DRIVEN programme, funded by a £8.6 million grant from Innovate UK, has already tested a self-driving grocery delivery van in a housing estate in Greenwich, and has plans to trial autonomous vehicles on the road by the end of this year. Come 2019, Oxbotica will have created a car that’ll drive itself from Oxford to London, an idea that was totally unthinkable not long ago. These vehicles will be operating at Level 4 autonomy, meaning they have the capability of performing all safety-critical driving functions and monitoring roadway conditions for the whole duration of the journey, with zero-passenger occupancy. Yep, the future really starts here.