Uber seem to be revolutionising the taxi market, and transport in general through a different business model. However, they may be replaced by a very different business model – or at least, that would appear to be the hope of Google.
As is well documented Google have been developing driver-less car technology but have now announced that they plan to use them as an Uber-style taxi service by 2020 – report here
To me, this seems inevitable and is the use I have envisaged for driver-less cars since they were first suggested. There has been growth in car sharing with short term rental paid by the mile or minute, and increased use of services as provided by Uber, so people are getting used to not owning cars, and not always driving themselves, so why even have a driver? I’m a petrolhead who loves driving but despite that I can see the appeal of calling up a car, it arriving outside the door and taking me to wherever I want to go without my having to be involved in the driving – leaving time to work, read, relax or sleep whilst travelling. I still want to be able to drive myself at times, and don’t like the thought of not being able to do so if desired, but choice would be great.
The UK government have plans to create the HS2 rail links which are intended to reduce journey times from a few cities, including Leeds, to London. To use that I would have to get from home to Leeds, and then from wherever in London the train line terminates to where I want to go. Surely getting a driver-less car from my door to the specific destination could easily be quicker and more convenient. And with the proposed costs and timescale of HS2 developing driver-less car technology such that it can be used on a large scale would be cheaper and quicker. So how about the UK government investing in that instead of 200 year old rail technology!
There is an emerging theme here which could change transport radically, Google have recognised it (as have others) and are looking at innovative business models to deliver change – lets see how quickly it happens.
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