SE Vehicles

Ride hailing and the prospect of self-driving

Dec 24, 2016

Why would you use a (autonomous) vehicle that weighs 20-30 times more than the person behind the steering wheel, that is wider than he or she is tall, if the vehicle typically carries only one passenger? Particularly if you expect the vehicle to drive autonomously through dense city traffic.

If the widespread use of (budget) ride hailing is in 24/7 safely operating, low-cost, quick-charging, non-polluting (robo) vehicles - legalized, regulated, perhaps even welcomed by authorities - why bother to make big cars steer themselves?  Big cars are more likely to hit other road users. Are not exactly economical. Zero emission is difficult to realize. Vehicle weight is THE enemy of battery-powered propulsion with satisfactory range. Slash width, ditch weight, and electric drive will be cheaper - needing less batteries to begin with. The sleeker the vehicle, the more feel the 'driver' has for its outer dimensions, the more safety margin there is for self-driving. The less mass is being displaced and the less road space is being occupied, the less risk a vehicle poses to other road users.

A TNC (transportation network company like Uber) might consider leasing the vehicle to contractors. Sell to the public and other providers (for instance, railway companies that offer door-to-door service) - why not? Average occupancy of a ride-hail trip is 1.2 passenger. So, two seats suffice most of the time. With self-driving all three seats of the sleek vehicle depicted below can be paying passenger seats. Ride fares need to cover everything - think of a pie in which you have slices for running costs, chauffeur earnings and TNC fees. The lower the costs, the bigger the earnings. Autonomous vehicles will open up whole new possibilities, lower fares as chauffeur earnings can be left out...

1. Operational costs | Pricing | Earnings
2.
Working relation TNC - chauffeurs
3.
Authorities’ attitude towards sharing economy in general
4.
Disruption taxi branch
5.
Safety Self-driving
6.
Urban environment | Emissions
7.
Public perception
8.
'Personal use'
A new transport mode could be a game changer in every respect. Make it the standard of Next-Gen mobility, and the market will gravitate around it - users, applications, providers. Like what happened with the Apple iPhone.

There are more 'intrinsic' safety features no other car has, that were already discussed with the NHTSA.

Ralph Panhuyzen, sevehicle@gmail.com

Times Article Viewed: 9479

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