Joining the Fray
The number of potential movers and shakers in the field of autonomous taxiing seems to be ever growing. But the stiff competition may benefit the consumer and force the competitors to create the best product possible. Not only will they be competing among themselves, but also with traditional taxis and personally owned vehicles. The latest company to join in on the fun is also one of the biggest and fanciest in the world.
Mercedes-Benz is teaming up with vehicle component manufacturer Bosch to fast-track a self-driving taxi service. The company is expecting to launch the service as soon as 2020, a year earlier than other companies' plans. Ford, BMW, General Motors, and Google’s Waymo all plan to launch their services in or around 2021. Uber has already deployed self-driving cars in Pittsburgh to test their service. The vehicles are monitored by a live person and they have the ability to take over control if the need arises. The other offerings will likely roll out the same way initially.
Studies have shown that between 90 and 93 percent of all vehicular accidents are caused by human error. By removing the human from the equation, we could significantly reduce these incidents — theoretically, at least. There is always a lot of press surrounding any collisions or other incidents involving self-driving tech, whether they involve Tesla's offerings or Uber's taxis. So it is clear that self-driving vehicles will not end all accidents, but they could still potentially save thousands of lives.
Reducing driving-related deaths would be a fantastic attribute of self-driving vehicles, but that's not the only potential benefit. These vehicles are all run on electric power, so they are much cleaner than fossil fuel-burning, traditional vehicles. With one-third of all air pollution coming from operating gasoline-powered vehicles, mitigating their role in daily transportation will help keep us from further damaging the environment.