Daimler AG (ETR: DAI), the auto parts maker Bosch Ltd (NYSE: BOSCHLTD) and NVIDIA (NASDAQ: NVDA) have teamed up to develop a robotic taxicab.
Bosch and Daimler plan to deploy a fleet of fully automated taxis by the mid-2020s, Fast Company claimed. The NVIDIA Drive Pegasus artificial intelligence (AI) platform will apparently operate the taxis.
NVIDIA engineers think their new Xavier AI accelerator; a nine-billion transistor chip and DGX-2 learning system will make robot taxis safe. The Xavier AI will operate the cars the DGX-2 will train algorithms to drive them.
The current plan is to test the taxis in Silicon Valley soon. Presumably, the taxis would be Mercedes cars or SUVs. Mercedes is the only Daimler auto brand marketed in the United States.
Are Driverless Robot Taxis Coming to Silicon Valley?
NVIDIA and its partners announced no test dates. A Bosch press release simply mentioned plans to deploy fleets of fully automated driverless vehicles but provided no time frame.
Testing in Silicon Valley; or the San Francisco Bay Area, seems unrealistic because of the backlash against the Uber self-driving car there. Arizona or Michigan; which have been receptive to autonomous vehicles, are logical testing grounds.
Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Waymo subsidiary is already testing Chrysler Pacifica and Jaguar iPace robot taxis in Phoenix. Waymo is testing in Phoenix because Arizona’s government is more tolerant of self-driving vehicles.
The potential market for driverless taxis or rental vehicles is huge. An obvious use of a driverless taxi would be to take passengers to and from train stations or airports.
Another popular vehicle would be a driverless car that hauled commuters to work or took people shopping. All the people who hate to drive would love such a vehicle. A huge advantage would be a vehicle that only comes when you need it.
Such driverless vehicles might replace school buses in some communities. The disabled, the elderly, and the police are other logical users of autonomous vehicles.
The market for driverless taxis will be huge if Bosch, Daimler, and NVIDIA can get them to work. Even if regulators refuse to allow robot taxis on the streets, the technology will have many other uses.
Volkswagen, Bosch and NVIDIA team up for Blockchain Driven Vehicle
Predictably, up to 25 companies signed onto NVIDIA’s robot taxi effort, a press release indicates. The organizations in NVIDIA’s driverless taxi effort range from startups like NuTonomy and Yandex to the world’s oldest automaker; Daimler, and Volkswagen (ETR: VOW3) one of the world’s largest automakers.
Volkswagen Group of North America, Bosch, and NVIDIA teamed up to create the Networking for Autonomous Vehicles (NAV) Alliance. The purpose of the NAV alliance is use multi-gig Ethernet, the Blockchain, and other innovative technologies as an operating system for driverless vehicles, Digital Trends reported.
Alliance creating Robot Taxis
News stories did not say whether Volkswagen will be part of the robot taxi effort. VW’s participation in that effort seems logical. I wonder if Waymo or any American automakers will join the alliance.
The NAV is likely to be first of many new efforts to commercialize driverless vehicles. Many companies will rush to join efforts like the NAV because Waymo has been valued at $175 billion by Morgan Stanley. That valuation; which makes Waymo the world’s most valuable unicorn, will drive many companies to join autonomous vehicle development efforts.
Robotic taxis are likely to fill the world’s streets within the decade. I have to wonder what the popular reaction to driverless robot taxis will be.