Robocars are broadly going to be a huge boon for many people with disabilities, especially disabilities that make it difficult to drive or those that make it hard to get in and out of vehicles. Existing disability regulations and policies were written without robocars in mind, and there are probably some improvements that need to be made.
The vision of many of us for robocars is a world of less private car ownership and more use of robotaxis — on-demand ride service in a robocar. That’s what companies like Uber clearly are pushing for, and probably Google, but several of the big car companies including Mercedes, Ford and BMW among others have also said they want to get there — in the case of Ford, without first making private robocars for their traditional customers.
In this world, what does it cost to operate these cars? How much might competitive services charge for rides? How much money will they make? What factors, including price, will they compete on, and how will that alter the landscape?
Today, I want to look at some implications of Tesla’s Master Plan, Part Deux which caused some buzz this week. The one part of the plan that I have trouble with is the idea of combining solar generation with battery storage.
Cheap robotaxi service under 50 cents/mile will make personal car transportation economically accessible. If the calculated cost drops to 30 cents/mile, or even 10 cents/mile in poorer economies, there’s potential for vast accessible to billions of new people. The market may already be saturated in the United States, which has vast car ownership, but the global average is about 15%. The car industry is facing a boom not a bust, from this technology.