In mid-November 2017, transportation sector’s wordly-wise people assembled at Columbia University to deliberate the future of mobility in the fall symposium of the American Geographical Society. Presented by the Earth Institute, the occasion delivered a hopeful picture of the world in 2050: Hyperloop pods will transport us farther and faster; drones will patrol our infrastructure to keep roads and bridges harmless; geocoding systems will help ambulances respond to emergencies anywhere on the planet. But the innovation that kept coming up again and again was the self-driving car. Specifically, “Robo-taxis” electric, shared, autonomous vehicles are gearing up to completely change how we live, work, and design our cities, just as human-operated cars transformed the twentieth century.
In this article we’ll discuss 5 ways how robo-taxis and driverless cars will change our future.
1. Reduced Vehicle Emissions
Self-driving cars could do more than allow passengers to nap, read e-mails, or watch movies on the road. When used as taxis, scientists say, the type of robotic vehicles that Google and Uber are building could also cut greenhouse gas emissions—a lot.
An autonomous or self-driving electric cab in 2030 could emit up to 94 percent fewer emissions per mile than a conventional gasoline car of today, and it could be far cheaper than taxis with drivers, says a study Monday by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Almost half the savings occur, because the taxi is “right-sized” for each trip.
“Most trips in the U.S. are taken singly, meaning one- or two-seat cars would satisfy most trips,” author Jeffery Greenblatt says in announcing the findings. Small taxis use less energy and emit fewer greenhouse gases than larger ones that carry multiple passengers or those with luggage.
Prior research has suggested self-driving cars can not only reduce traffic accidents but also boost efficiencies, including optimal routing of trips, smoother acceleration and braking, and the ability to reduce wind resistance by riding closely behind other autonomous vehicles.
“[Autonomous taxis] are anticipated to be deployed according to each trip’s occupancy need (‘right-sizing’) because it is cost-effective for owners (capital and operating costs are lower) and passengers (who pay only for needed seats and storage),” the authors write. Smaller vehicles will save energy, and moreover, the authors project, there will be additional efficiency gains from two sources. These vehicles will be more likely to be electric, and thus powered from an increasingly renewable energy source; and they will travel considerably more miles per year, meaning that more miles will be clean-powered.
It all adds up to a strong business case, meaning the vehicles would be “likely to gain rapid early market share.” The result is that by the year 2030, autonomous taxis could be dramatically cleaner not only than current cars, but also than projected hybrids in that year. The emissions reduction over cars we currently drive would be 87 to 94 percent, researchers suggest and over future hybrids would be 63 to 82 percent.
2. Robo-taxis will impact Urban Centers
Today, cities are designed for cars. Roads and highways have taken over, and cities have become less and less pedestrian-friendly. The advent of driverless cars could bring a shift to this phenomenon, reverting city design back to being of and for the people. More precise driverless cars mean narrower streets, with larger spaces for pedestrians. Fewer cars mean fewer traffic jams.
Crossing roads will also be easier because driverless cars are more considerate and reasonable than angry human drivers. Amenities such as traffic lights and parking garages would also go the way of the dodo. Wouldn’t it be nice to have parks instead of those ugly parking lots?
On-demand mobility services, autonomous driving, dynamic pricing algorithms and vehicle electrification will change the way people experience mobility in urban environments. Smart cities based on data-driven and algorithm-based technologies will become a global trend over the next decade. Robo-taxis will also affect society, boosting mobility options for the elderly, people with disabilities, and others with limited access to transportation, increasing automotive safety, and even reducing the need for urban parking spaces.
Thereby, the development of sustainable future mobility services is one of the major topics that will impact urban living.
3. Future robo-taxis could self-charge
Electric robo-taxis are a real possibility. Trends in transportation, energy, and demographics indicate that future vehicles will operate autonomously, run on electricity rather than fossil fuels, and be shared instead of privately owned.
But before everyone can carpool in self-driving electric cars, we need places to charge them. Today, that’s a challenge: there are only about 20,000 charging stations for electric vehicles in the US. (There are more than 125,000 gas stations for conventional cars.) McKinsey predicts that major economies (China, Europe, India, and the US) will need to invest $55 billion in charging infrastructure by 2031 to support the 140 million electric vehicles that will be on the road then. There’s also the matter of plugging chargers into the cars. Robo-taxis, by definition, won’t have human drivers to manipulate long, thick charging cables.
A startup called WiTricity thinks a form of wireless charging called magnetic resonance is a smarter way to power up. The technology takes energy from the electric grid, via a wire, and feeds it into a copper coil on the ground, creating a magnetic field. When a second copper coil attached to the bottom of the car comes within range of this field, an electric current is generated on the vehicle side, which is used to charge the car’s battery pack.
To charge, an electric vehicle (EV) simply needs to park over a coil and wait a few hours. WiTricity says this method is as efficient as inserting a charging cable directly into a car. Alex Gruzen, WiTricity’s CEO, expects WiTricity-enabled parking lots and garages to be built in the next two years. The first ones, he says, will probably be in big Chinese cities, where a large percentage of the population lives in apartment buildings.
Electrified city streets and wireless vehicle-to-grid energy exchanges are probably several years away, but WiTricity has a prototype system that it developed with Honda. Gruzen says Japanese utilities have expressed interest, in part because the country deregulated its energy market and companies want to offer unique services to stand out from the competition.
4. More Industry Jobs
New technology is often met with fear, and self-driving cars are no different. Americans are hesitant to trust autonomous vehicles, according to the Pew Research Center. Two fatal accidents in 2018 did not improve consumer opinion. There is also worry about the number of jobs the new technology might eliminate.
Yet the autonomous vehicle industry is creating jobs, as well, especially as multiple companies race to put the first self-driving car into action. Autonomous driving job listings increased 27 percent year over year in January 2018, according to ZipRecruiter, an online employment marketplace. From the second quarter of 2017 to the second quarter of 2018, the amount of postings boomed 250 percent on the site due to a hiring spree at the beginning of the year.
There is anecdotal evidence that start-ups are growing. Aurora has expanded from a team of three in 2016 to more than 150 people across multiple facilities, the company said. Zoox, another start-up, said it has grown from four people in 2014 to more than 520 today. Both companies say they are hiring aggressively and don’t expect to slow down in the next few years.
Other more established companies are joining in. Tesla has been building an autopilot feature since 2014, and both Apple and Google parent company Alphabet are developing their own self-driving car models.
Traditional automotive companies are also investing. Ford recently announced that the automaker plans to spend $4 billion on autonomous vehicles by 2023. General Motors will pour $100 million into self-driving cars, and Toyota launched a $2.8 billion self-driving car company in Tokyo.
Jobs available now
Companies are currently hiring engineers, technicians, software developers and designers to build autonomous vehicles. There are also increased opportunities in safety and testing as autonomous vehicle companies race to get cars ready for the road.
There’s a huge opportunity to test your software in simulated environments,” said Bert Kaufman, head of corporate and regulatory affairs at Zoox. Software developers have come from the gaming industry to help build out these testing platforms for Zoox, he said.
Car maintenance and logistics positions will also continue to grow, said Kaufman.
“Whether it’s maintenance technicians, fleet oversight, remote oversight of the fleet, there’s still going to be a need for service technicians to maintain and serve the fleet,” said Kaufman. As self-driving cars become more prevalent, the kinds of jobs available will expand, said Siegel of ZipRecruiter.
“In the emergence of any new technology, the preponderance of jobs are more skilled, more technical positions,” he said. “People put layers of simplification on top of it, which opens up access for less-trained people to participate into that industry.” The world won’t need fewer mechanics, he said. In addition, a focus on skills could open opportunities for those without a college degree.
5. Reduce traffic and accident rates
The highly automated technology can be helpful in reducing traffic congestion, as autonomous cars are equipped with connected car technology. With this technology, the cars can communicate with each other, based on which it can improve their routes for an individual vehicle. This information can help to distribute a proper traffic flow.
This could help robo taxis to offer a more convenient ride and reduce the time as well. Road traffic injuries due to human errors have already become a key cause of death. In addition, public transport including taxes can greatly contribute to decrease the rate of accidents.
However, with semi-automation in vehicles, the number has decreased, as the sensors and advanced systems alert the driver during danger. In addition, robo taxis can also be a much better solution to reduce the rate of road accidents.
With the recent leaps and bounds made in the self-driving car industry, very few people would be bold enough to dispute the fact that these cars will reduce the number of road accident fatalities. Research has shown that the number of U.S. deaths resulting from road accidents could be reduced by more than 90% by the year 2050 because of self-driving cars.
Introduction – https://univdatos.com/blog/The-future-of-Robo-Taxis
Self-Driving ‘Robocabs’ Could Help Curb Global Warming – https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/150706-driverless-robot-taxis-could-curb-global-warming
Robo-taxis will impact Urban Centers – https://www.machinedesign.com/mechanical-motion-systems/article/21837191/surprising-ways-how-driverless-cars-will-change-our-future
Future robo-taxis could charge themselves and help balance the electric grid –
Autonomous vehicles won’t only kill jobs. They will create them, too –
Reduce traffic and accident rates – https://roboticsandautomationnews.com/2020/05/14/robo-taxis-to-accelerate-autonomous-public-transportation/32261/