The advent of the driverless car is the sort of creative destruction not seen since the beginning of the automobile. It opens the door for business models that could begin to topple the concept of car ownership. Here’s how:
In the next 10 years more and more driverless cars will be on the road. Wired Magazine says “let the robot drive” I wholeheartedly agree. When the autobots finally do emerge they will be significantly more expensive making it difficult for normal car owners to buy one. However, fleet owners that have higher capacity utilization of vehicles can obtain a return on investment, and have lower cost of capital. Imagine instead the Robo-cab company.
Your robocab can be called by iphone, and it will tell you down to the minute when you can expect a pickup. It will give you near exact time to destination which you will confirm in advance. Payment will be automatic, and no chitchat in the meantime. If you have any questions or concerns – a call center can help you modify your plans or answer any questions you have in route. Just for the sake of familiarity Frank will answer the phone with a heavy Indian accent and you can even have a view-screen to see the back of his head.
A central dispatch will optimize all routes and even allow for dynamic ride-sharing. Allowing somebody else to share the seat next to you will save money all around! When the cabs aren’t in use – or to increase utilization they can even serve as delivery vehicles for food or groceries. Then – any grocery story can offer peapod service with only a bagging fee for employees to walk out and place food in the robocab- scanning the order number to confirm purchase.
Since robocabs will be in a fleet they will be able to refuel at a central location and use the most cost-effective fuel for the flex-fuel plug-in hybrid platform.
If you can reliably call on a rob-cab for most of your needs including commutes – why own a car? If the cab company can get utilization rates high enough then they can charge a reasonable rate. Zipcar might even be an early adopter because the car would be able to find its own way home.
Lastly – our experience of the interior of the car will be completely changed. One of the biggest cost of car ownership is the time we waste inside them. Just think we could be wasting that time in so many other ways!