Already facing competition from peer-to-peer ridesharing services such as Uber, the traditional taxi industry now has to face the challenge of the emerging robo-taxi industry. This industry refers to autonomous vehicles that are operated as an e-hailing (on-demand mobility) service. It shouldn’t be that long before commuters will be able to use their mobile devices to summon fully autonomous robot taxis. Many of these vehicles will be electric, some will be powered by solar or wind generation and they will all have zero-emissions.
Transformation around the corner
According to www.bain.com, robo-taxis will transform transit systems over the next five years, tackling the twin challenges of climate change and congestion. In fact, it is estimated that autonomous taxis could reduce the number of cars on city streets by more than 40%. In this sort of scenario, a major city could use robot taxis to carry up to 60% of their passengers and create affordable, clean and secure mobility for city residents.
What the industry will look like
The assumption is that the vehicle will be shared, and will be capable of seating four people or up to six people in a shuttle form. Several companies are already testing out robo-taxi services, especially in the USA and Asia. Wayomo has already commenced public services in Phoenix, Arizona while GM’s Cruise Automation is planning to launch soon in San Francisco, California.
With robo-taxis being such a new industry, lawmakers may have to catch up to the vagaries of this technology by changing regulations. For example, cities and countries will need to make stronger commitments to reduce carbon emissions. Further, regulations will create incentives for zero-emission cars such as battery-powered electric vehicles (EVs) and increase pressure on internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles. These regulatory changes will take time and lobbying efforts could indicate what commercial interests are being planned.
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