Self-driving tech companies, Waymo and Navya, both debuted their autonomous taxi cabs yesterday. This year has been amazing for autonomous travel even bridging into the aviation sector. However, the concept of AI-driven transit services present major opportunity for social and economic disruption. Despite Lyft and Uber being obvious candidates for this technology, others in the industry have been taking the wheel (and than removing it to install automated software of course).
Just yesterday, Google’s self-driving car known as ‘Waymo‘ has announced the launch of a free “fully autonomous Uber-like ride-hailing service” in Phoenix, Arizona. Last April, travel data from Edison Investment Research determined Waymo’s self-driving tech was “5,000 times better than Uber.” The company is owned by Google’s parent company ‘Alphabet’ and has been running trials on the roads of Arizona since October. In the next few months, their fleet of Fiat Chrysler Pacifica minivans will be available for those already involved in the company’s public trial.
“We want the experience of traveling with Waymo to be routine, so you want to use our driver for your everyday needs,” said Waymo CEO John Krafcik Tuesday at a conference in Portugal.
That very same day the French company, ‘Navya,’ introduced their Autonom Cab which they believe will be a key player in the industry’s own “mobility revolution.” This electric self-driving cab will hit max speeds of 55 mph and is specifically designed for traveling metropolitan districts. Starting tomorrow, they are partnering with AAA to launch a year-long trial picking up passengers along the Fremont East District in Las Vegas. The perfected model will be unveiled at the Las Vegas 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in January of next year.
“With the development of our new transportation solutions that are autonomous, driverless and electric, day after day we are revolutionizing the idea of mobility in cities and on private sites,” said Christophe Sapet, Navya CEO
Household brands have been staking their claim on the technology as well. Lyft partnered with Ford and in September announced they will have their own self-driving ridesourcing service by 2021 utilizing fully autonomous Ford Fusions. Uber, on the other hand, has been struggling since revealing that drivers had to take control after each mile during their test runs in March. They also sued Waymo for allegedly stealing their design of the Lidar Array light-based imaging system used on Uber models. In September, Tesla delivered 50 self-driving cars consisting of Model S Sedans and Model X SUVs in a deal with the United Arab Emirates to jumpstart autonomous taxi services in Dubai.
With the majority of fatal traffic accidents caused by human error and the downward trend of traditional car ownership, autonomous taxis may be arriving at your destination sooner than you think. The big question is how comfortable the public will be in trusting automated technology over human instincts.