Ride Sharing Buzz

By Seb Lindner

There’s no question that ‘ride sharing’ has changed significantly with the development and invention of new technology. Technically, the first horse and carriage taxi was patented in 1843 but some reports suggest it was happening much earlier. In 1907, the ‘Yellow Cab Co.’ was founded allowing people to easily pay for a one-off ride. We make another big jump to the innovations of companies such as Uber (founded in March, 2009) and Lyft (founded in June 2012). These companies came about at the convergence of a few major innovations: smartphones, 3G network and advanced mapping technology.

So, what does the future hold for ride-sharing? With the convergence of 5G network and autonomous vehicle technology, perhaps there could be another ride-sharing evolution.

Ride Sharing Today

Today, the technology that underpins ride sharing is not IoT (internet of things) connected cars. Instead, it relies on smartphone marketplace applications that connect drivers with passengers.

As the 5G network gets rolled out and cars become constantly connected to the internet, it is likely that drivers will rely on their vehicle dashboard instead of their smartphone. In fact, it’s already happening with infotainment systems developed by Ford, Honda and several other manufacturers working to integrate smartphone apps into the car dashboard.

Autonomous Cars

To this point, ride sharing has worked to match drivers with passengers. However, autonomous vehicle will likely disrupt this by replacing drivers with sophisticated vehicles.

Many companies are working on autonomous vehicles and you feel whoever cracks the market first may reign supreme (at least in the Western world). In fact, Waymo has already launched its self-driving vehicles in Arizona and it is charging people to use them.

So, What Happens Now?

Three of the major hurdles in developing fully autonomous vehicles suitable for ride sharing for the masses are: technological, legislative and infrastructure barriers. However, there are plenty of companies working on the tech so that will just improve over time (think Moore’s Law). Around the world (particularly in some states of the US like Arizona), legislation is now being implemented and will continue to do so. Once one state does it well, I’m sure the others will follow. Lastly, there has been significant infrastructure (charging stations etc.) developed all around the US and the world already. At this rate, you should be able to drive just about anywhere by 2025!

How cool would it be if autonomous vehicles became fully independent – recharging, parking and servicing themselves – all the while the owner of the vehicles (likely to be a fleet owned by Waymo or Uber) would be making money. That’s a future I like the sound of!!

Dec 26, 2018