How will robotaxi services compete in the future?

Right now Uber, Lyft and traditional taxis are competing. But in the robocar world of the future, when large fleets of cars operate as taxis and replace car ownership for many, how will they compete with one another. Will there be a monopoly in each town, or just a couple of companies? Can we have dozens? Does the biggest fleet win?

I have a new major article on the subject. I also welcome comments on other ways these services might find a competitive edge.

Read Competition in the Robotaxi world

ride performance

A factor that will impact some rides is speed. When all the vehicles are robots, presumably traffic congestion will be a minor issue. The primary cost of shorter trip times may just be the extra energy consumption, which can be 2x for a small increment in speed. But then as top speeds increase, specialized cars may be able to go faster more efficiently than other cars.

I could see trip time for cross town trips being in the top three competative factors.


For urban trips routing could save some time. Energy cost for a Tesla are about 3 cents per mile. Very small cars could get towards one cent. It won’t be a huge factor. Battery life is much bigger

Robotaxi operators and private robocars

Barring the "irrational pricing" you mention on the part of owners of private robocars, I'm not sure I buy that robotaxi operators will bother to hire privately-owned robocars to augment their fleets.

As mentioned at the end of the article, the interest costs associated with increasing fleet size are not very high. In particular, I don't think they're high enough to justify robotaxi companies using privately-owned robocars as an ad-hoc, informal capital market, instead of just, e.g., issuing some bonds. Consider all the friction: the privately-owned robocars might be in an unacceptable state, coordinating with the actual owner is hard, etc.

Peak demand

One reason is peak demand. For those sizing their fleet to match peak demand, the ability to make use of other cars (even at higher prices) during the peaks and surges — especially unusual ones — can be a better choice than fleet expansion, even at low capital costs.

This is also true for specialty demand. The customer wanting a luxury car quickly might be easiest to serve with such a car from a reputable source.

You can grow your fleet, but the more you grow it, the more it risks sticking around too long. It’s still the ideal choice to have an optimally sized fleet, but the main point is that it’s not an overwhelming choice. A larger fleet is a little more expensive, not a lot more.

Robothings & sharing private robo car can manage the peak

RoboBus, RoboTaxi & personal robocar(or sharing robo car) can manage the peak time, I think.
We, every car owner of today, don't have to share robocar.
We can own our robocar and share it with some if necessarily.

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