Aicha Evans, boss of Amazon's Zoox is one of many going all out to get you robotaxiing around by 2030.
In this article, I predict how huge Robotaxis will be by 2030 on a scale of 1 to 10 based on looking at:
- The technology needed
- The companies making it happen
- What's to love
- jobs that will be hired.
Robotaxis will be huge if the three major technology challenges are solved.
Summon the Taxi
What you'll use to Summon the taxi will be solved. You'll use an app just like you do for an Uber. Open it on your phone, enter your destination, confirm pickup and destination addresses, select and then confirm the booking.
Waiting time depends on availability but with fleets of robotaxis driving around in many areas, it won't be a long wait.
Jump on board
Designing them so you can jump aboard is also Solved. Zoox's vehicles are purpose-built for robotaxi work. They look cool. The doors slide open for you to get in and then slide shut with room for four of you and baggage. On arrival, the Zoox opens its doors automatically and you get out.
Tesla and Waymo's solution doesn't look as sexy. It's getting in their normal cars. But Tesla's are getting pretty impressive.
Drive around safely
Those were the easy bits of tech. Driving you around safely is the real challenge and is only "Maybe Solved". How vehicles see and understand their surroundings before navigating you around the road is a challenge. Combinations of cameras, radar, and Lidar sensors mounted on all 4 corners of the vehicles enable them to see in all conditions. Tesla's taking a different technical approach to most
with Elon Musk insisting his teams don't use LIDAR radar and just use optical cameras.
Sensors, maps, and artificial intelligence plan and handle the controls in all robotaxis. Amazing progress is undoubtedly being made, there's still a mountain to climb before these vehicles are fully autonomous and safe though in a wide range of cities.
Some Artificial Intelligence experts say it is still decades away from being good enough for fully autonomous driving in most conditions. Elon Musk and others are far more optimistic. And how are you going to feel about Zoox not having a driver's seat or any steering controls?
It's fully autonomous with no human intervention whatsoever at what's called Level 5 autonomous driving. And to make sure it's all safe for you, the companies have to navigate their way through stringent regulations to ensure the vehicles are OK with over 70 regulations that need to comply within the US.
I really hope all of this gets solved.
Robotaxis will be huge if there are unicorns - startup companies that have a valuation of more than a billion dollars and when there's plenty of big established companies - such as United.
Zoox is a definite unicorn pushing things forward for you. Born in Senegal, Zoox's CEO Aicha is a notable African American female CEO. It was acquired by Amazon in 2020 for over $1.2 billion. It shouldn't be surprising that Jeff Bezos would be involved somewhere in robotaxis. All part of his sci-fi childhood dreams no doubt and you can see the technology being brilliant for helping with Amazon automated deliveries. Zoox has permits to test driverless automobiles on public roads with them operating today in Las Vegas and San Francisco.
Elon Musk's Tesla is also clearly a robotaxi unicorn. Elon Musk announced the idea of full self-driving robotaxis in 2016.
The company was to launch autonomous taxis in 2020, but it hasn't happened. Elon replied to a question on Twitter in 2020 about the launch saying, "Functionality still looking good for this year. Regulatory approval is the big unknown." If you ask me, Tesla has huge advantages because it can create a robotaxi network using people's existing Tesla cars creating owners an extra income stream from their car. Plus Elon Musk has huge amounts of self-driving car data to give him advantages when it comes to cracking the self-driving nut first.
Waymo is also a massive, sort of startup, working hard for you.
Waymo is also a massive, sort of startup, working hard for you. The company was founded way back in 2009 and is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc - the owner of Google - to develop autonomous driving technology. It operates a commercial robo-taxisservice in Arizona area called Waymo One. It's the first autonomous taxi service operating without any safety drivers in their car.
There’s plenty of multinational companies that are active including General Motors and China's AutoX.
General Motors is investing heavily. It acquired Cruise in 2021. Their Cruise Origin looks super cool and is meant to rolling off the production line soon.
And there's global competition. China is investing massively. AutoX, for example, is testing self-driving cars without human drivers in Shenzhen city, backed by Alibaba. It's easy to imagine China mandating cities going fully robotaxi once they've cracked the technology. So what's all this mean? It can only mean one thing. All the unicorns and active multinationals points to you riding around in Robotaxis and them being huge by 2030.
Now, what's all this Love stuff. Well, it's the bit where I ask whether you and I have reasons to give plenty of 5-star ratings and not 1 star.
For being cheaper than normal taxis and even owning car it scores 5 stars.
Today, you pay two to three dollars per mile on a normal taxi in the US.
Companies such as Waymo plan charge 30 cents to one dollar seventy per mile in Arizona.
Elon Musk noted that Tesla would charge about $1 per mile.
This is possible because, unlike normal taxis, robotaxis don't have drivers to pay or tip.
And the robotaxis vehicles are cheaper to operate because they are electric -
easily lasting over 500,000 miles by 2030 compared to
a typical gas vehicle that lasts a maximum of 200,000.
And are you one of those people Robotaxis are also fantastically convenient for and will give 4 stars? Today, there are times when you wait ages for a taxi. Even for Ubers. With robotaxis, it's possible that there will be even bigger fleets of them
driving around 24/7 on the roads with enough being available on demand even at most peak times. It's a dream come true for many to be able to
summon a car whenever you need to go somewhere and it swoops up to get you a couple of minutes later. For many, rather sadly, in my opinion, is that you don't have to talk to the driver. One more nail in the coffin of a sociable society where we ACTUALLY talk to each other?
Safety and Sustainability
You hopefully will be liking the Safety and sustainability giving it 3 stars at least. Today, even though a taxi is generally safe to travel in, it emits 4.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year. Aicha's Zoox, Elon's Tesla and Waymo's robotaxis are all electrical, contributing 70% less CO2 than the conventional car. However, the manufacturers cannot guarantee that every self-driving car on the roads can offer the same level of safety and security as a conventional car. Computers may be more reliable and safer than human drivers, but there’s still a risk of accidents, and some of us won’t feel safe being driven around without a driver. According to the Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 94% of car accidents occur due to human error every day worldwide so ultimately it's likely that people will feel safer in robotaxis than they do in human-driven taxis. I personally think that's what will happen.
No more parked cars
And something that I think is also fantastic is no more parked cars and will earn 5 stars from many of you. Parking is a major problem in big cities today, causing congestion and taking up huge amounts of space for parking. Robotaxis like Zoox means people don't own cars and instead get a robotaxi everywhere. This frees up space where parked cars normally clog things up to have play areas and seating and new gardens. Imagine that.
If robotaxis are going to be huge there will be lots of jobs hired and fired.
On the fired side, it's not yet happening but taxi drivers will unfortunately one day be fired.
On the hired side, Aicha's Zoox team has a massive 234 job vacancies listed on LinkedIn at the time of recording which make it looks like things are going to be big .
They are across multiple job functions including:technical engineer, recruiter, visual designer, legal counsel, market researcher, and financial analyst, among many more. It's well worth looking at LinkedIn if you're interested in getting a job in the robo taxi sector.
Helping you make good career decisions is a big reason why I'm doing this Life in 2030 channel. Jobs in fast growing new sectors like robo taxis are exciting and more secure than in older sectors.
You could set up some job alerts for these companies. It's easy to do on LinkedIn and click to have a look at my 'Finding great jobs for life in 2030' video. Because there's plenty of jobs being hired and fired, from a Jobs point of view, robo taxis is at the Huge end of the scale.