JOURNAL

Taxibots: The Possible Future of Personal Transportation

By Francois Callewaert September 7th, 2015 |

It is 7:30am. You just had your breakfast and are now leaving your building with your two kids. In front of the door, a driverless car is waiting, displaying your name on its doors. You enter the car which greets you and starts to drive towards your kids’ school. After leaving your kids at school, the car resumes driving towards your working place while you enjoy reading the news and consulting your emails on the display provided. When you arrive, the car lets you out in front of the door, greets you goodbye and leaves to find another customer. Another car will automatically come at 5pm to drive you back from work and look for your kids, unless you want to reschedule, which you can do very easily with your smartphone.

This is what commuting to work, school or grocery shopping will look like for most people in just a few years thanks to the very fast progress of self-riding cars and car sharing technologies, combined in what researchers call “taxibots”.

According to a recent study, the average American spends 1 hour and 41 minutes driving every day, and spends on average $8,000 a year to own and use a vehicle. Although driving can be an enjoyable thing to do, most of the time is just lost commuting and the expenses can be a real burden for many people.

With the advent of self-driving cars, all this time lost driving can be used for more useful or enjoyable purposes like consulting emails, making phone calls, watching a movie or just relaxing. At the same time, self-driving cars are expected to improve driving safety and moving smarter across the city in order to avoid traffic jams.

Furthermore, combining self-driving with car sharing will allow us to significantly reduce our transportation expenses while enjoying the comfort of riding in high quality and newer cars only as the cost of these vehicles will be allocated between multiple users. Simple calculations show that daily use of a taxibot service would reduce the transportation expenses of households from $9,000 down to less than $3,000, with all the advantages described above.

Additionally, studies show that replacing the personal car by taxibots could completely change the way our cities look. Taxibots can reduce the number of vehicles by as much as 90%, and thus the need for corresponding parking space. This will decrease the global infrastructure costs of cities while liberating space and making them more enjoyable and cheaper to live in.

This future is what Google, Apple and Uber are preparing in collaboration with traditional car companies. Driverless cars may seem far, but the transition will come very fast as self-driving features get better and better. In fact, the transition has already started as some self-driving features have already been introduced in the market. Ten million cars with self-driving features are expected in 2020, and fully autonomous self-driving cars will be available as soon as 2019.

In conclusion, services of driverless car sharing will make personal transportation an easier, cheaper, safer and more enjoyable experience in the near future.

References:

http://blog.tempoplugin.com/2013/7-time-consuming-things-an-average-joe-spends-in-a-lifetime/

http://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/08/cost-car-ownership.asp

http://www.bls.gov/news.release/cesan.nr0.htm

http://www.businessinsider.com/report-10-million-self-driving-cars-will-be-on-the-road-by-2020-2015-5

Image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.com

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Francois Callewaert

Francois Callewaert

Francois Callewaert is a PhD candidate in the department of Electrical Engineering at Northwestern University. His research focuses on novel optoelectronic devices for advanced sensing capabilities.
His interests cover nanotechnology, optic/electronic devices and systems and renewable energy.
Francois Callewaert

Francois Callewaert

About Francois Callewaert

Francois Callewaert is a PhD candidate in the department of Electrical Engineering at Northwestern University. His research focuses on novel optoelectronic devices for advanced sensing capabilities. His interests cover nanotechnology, optic/electronic devices and systems and renewable energy.

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