Since the start of 2016, automakers, tech companies, and ride-hailing services have been racing to create a driverless taxi service. This service would mirror how an Uber works today, but there wouldn’t be a driver.
So far, the race has been brutal, as companies jockey for position by spending billions to acquire/invest in companies that will help make a driverless taxi service a reality. Uber recently took the pole position by announcing it would begin piloting its self-driving taxi service (with a driver still behind the wheel) in Pittsburgh later this month. But other companies, including almost every automaker, are quickly catching up as we reach the mid-way point in the driverless taxi race…
In a new report, we analyze the fast evolving driverless taxi model and examine the moves companies have made so far in creating a service. In particular, we distill the service into three main players: the automakers who produce the cars, the components suppliers who outfit them to become driverless, and the shared mobility services that provide the platform for consumers to order them.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
- Fully autonomous taxis are already here, but to reach the point where companies can remove the driver will take a few years. Both Delphi and nuTonomy have been piloting fully autonomous taxi services in Singapore.
- Driverless taxi services would significantly benefit the companies creating them, but could have a massive ripple effect on the overall economy. They could cause lower traffic levels, less pollution, and safer roads. They could also put millions of people who rely on the taxi, as well as the automotive market, out of a job.
- We expect the first mass deployment of driverless taxis to happen by 2020. Some government officials have even more aggressive plans to deploy driverless taxis before that, but we believe they will be stymied by technology barriers, including mass infrastructure changes.
- But it will take 20-plus years for a driverless taxi service to make a significant dent in the way people travel. We believe the services will be launched in select pockets of the world, but will not reach a global level in the same time-frame that most technology proliferates.