The Future of Self Driving Taxi Services

There’s interesting news in the Taxi world

Lyft has announced that it will be teaming up with Waymo to deploy a fleet of selfing driving taxis in Phoenix, Arizona.

Arizona is an ideal landscape for testing and improving autonomous taxis. The sunshine and clear days make it easier for vehicle sensors to identify potential problems while traveling.

Many parts of Suburban Phoenix is flat, making it easier for the vehicle to navigate the roadway while initial operations are still being worked out. This is a much safer landscape than the rolling hills of California or Seattle Washington.

The wear and tear on the vehicles will be much less navigating on flat surface streets than if they were to taxi through the hills of San Francisco.

Self Driving Taxis & The Economy

With a new fleet of self-driving taxis, automotive mechanics are ready to take on the potential influx of work should these fleets get deployed and need ongoing maintenance. Arrowhead Imports in Peoria, Arizona is one of the Valleys leading import mechanics and specialized technicians. Shops like this are in a great position for facilitating the needs of these self-driving fleets. 

The Waymo powered self-driving taxi will initially be deployed with a safety driver while self-driving technologies are improved, the safety of the passengers is the most important concern at this time. 

Waymo is a subsidiary of Alphabet, which is a Google entity. That being the case, my bet is that they will be one of the first fully deployed self-driving taxis to hit the streets of the U.S. Partnering with Lyft, only makes Google’s position in this industry even stronger.

Deploying a fleet of self-driving taxis in the state of Arizona is also one of the best regions to deploy and test technologies, giving them yet another advantage to speed up the timeline in which they can fully test and provide these services. 

Another cool feature that will be available is the option to select a self-driving taxi during the ordering process.

Yes, that is correct, users will be able to choose a Waymo powered taxi over a traditional Lyft driver if they choose.

Lyft has positioned themselves as a major player in the taxi business, and this partnership will also be valuable to Lyft as more data will be collected and shared across the partnering platforms. 

While this is exciting news, it does leave some to wonder how some basic operational functions would be performed once the taxis are fully automated without the need of a safety driver.

Arizona has active railways and metro light rail, how will the vehicle respond to train lights?

  • Will there be horn features that can honk and warn other drivers who may be changing lanes into a blind spot?
  • What about maintenance?
  • Who will put air in the tires when they are running low on the road?
  • Will the vehicle pull over and wait for roadside assistance?
  • Are the vehicles ready to be used as airport shuttles?

Those are some simple thoughts that surfaced initially, and I’m sure the brains at Google have thought about all of it, but you still have to wonder how that will work.