Robotic Taxis Next Year?

As a Tesla owner I have witnessed the over the air evolution of my car over the past four years.  I wake up and find a new feature available in my car that was downloaded overnight. On many levels, this is very satisfying, but I can also attest to some every day functionality that still has not been corrected, despite customer complaints. Never the less, I am extremely happy with this car.  It is a testimony to excellent engineering, implicit simplicity of the design, and the power of on board computing.  It is also fast as hell.

Today, Elon Musk announced another twist in the autonomous vehicle landscape.  Customers could turn their cars into the fleet of autonomous taxis to convert the car from a cost to a cash cow.

Read the USA Today story here. 

I remain suspicious of just how quickly autonomous vehicles will enter the market.  There are so many variables in the mix that I find approval from NTSB and others unlikely.  All it takes is one lawsuit to throw things into the ditch.  Can the car sense a pedestrian or a bicycle rider who accidentally enters the path of the vehicle?  What happens when a tall truck blocks a traffic signal?  What about today’s slalom style drivers who cut people off in the vain attempt to gain a few car lengths before the next traffic light stops everyone?

Regardless of all these challenges, it seems the path to autonomous vehicles is in our future.  Clearly disruptive if it happens no matter when.


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