In a world where smart technology is all around us, one often finds themself wishing that a smart car could simply transport them anywhere without worrying about traffic on the road. Autonomous vehicles are now no longer a thought for the future, companies such as Cruise, Uber and Motional have all begun testing and deploying commercial robotaxi services in the U.S.
Earlier this year, Cruise had received permission to begin their commercial taxi service on select streets in San Fransisco, California. In addition to this, last week Uber and Motional announced a partnership to see one the largest deployments of autonomous vehicles on a major ride hail network, with the first trip to begin later this year.
Across the globe, autonomous vehicles have already taken to the streets. China based manufacturer, SAIC AI LAB, has announced a collaboration with Pony.ai to design and implement a new feature of driverless level 4 autonomous robotaxis.
Back in April, Pony.ai had already started operating its self-driving taxis on the streets of China, being the first company to achieve that permit; their robotaxi service has already completed more than 700,000 orders, with nearly 80% repeat users. The company will soon have 100 robotaxis in operation throughout Nansha, Guangzhou.
Currently, level 4 autonomy segment leads the robotaxi market. Level 4 robotaxis can operate driverless only on certain roads and towns that technologically support autonomous driving. Level 5 robotaxis, on the other hand, are completely driverless, as they can run even in bad weather, congested roads, and radar contaminations. We can expect to see level 5 autonomous cars on the road after 2025 as infrastructural requirements are yet to be fulfilled.
As companies are slowly leaning towards the trend of shared mobility, many are investing in on-demand transport services. One of the many advantages of using robotaxis is that it takes away the need for a chauffeur, which contributes to a large part of operating costs for ride-share companies. After the COVID-19 pandemic experience, many found that they could not afford to have a large number of drivers on payroll and service providers started to emphasise the need for self-driving vehicles.
The global robotaxi market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 63.11% from $836.36 million in 2021 to $68,346.86 million by 2030, according to a report by The Brainy Insights. This will not be to the industry’s surprise as robotaxis offer many advantages. Self-driving cars, with their technologically advanced long-range sensors and cameras, have a greater advantage over conventional vehicles. Autonomous cabs can better map obstacles around them and can therefore cut down the number of incidents on the road.
As cities grow and find it harder to manage traffic, robotaxis can also help reduce congestion. Cities all over the world are adapting their cities by upgrading infrastructure that supports the adoption of driverless cars.
The world needs now more than ever to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels and phase out the use of ICE vehicles. Increasing interest in emission-free vehicles has also pushed forward the development of robotaxis. These vehicles are an eco-friendly mode of transport with reduced electricity consumption rate.
Although robotaxis offer such a wide range of benefits, many are still skeptical about the adoption of autonomous tech. Some worry about cyber security and data protection issues, and others feel that an error with the technology could cause accidents on the road.
There is a long road before robotaxis become the norm on our roads. The advancements that have enabled autonomous vehicles has also introduced complexity around deployment at scale. The demand for eco-friendly vehicles will no doubt act as a catalyst for its growth, and most technology that adds benefits to peoples lives, eventually finds a place for itself somewhere.