Daimler, Mercedes-Benz’s parent company, plans to launch a customer-serving, driver-free taxi service in as little as three years, it announced today.
The German giant is just the latest to make this kind of pledge. Ford and BMW aim to do the same thing by 2021. General Motors and Google’s Waymo are eyeing a similar timeframe without committing to a specific date. Meanwhile, Uber has been shuttling passengers around Pittsburgh in self-driving cars since September (with humans up front to monitor the system).
All these companies see driverless vehicles as a route into
the nascent but lucrative ride-hailing business. Uber—which bleeds cash but
dominates the ride-hailing market—is valued at nearly $70 billion. Drop the
human drivers who demand things like money, and the prize looks extra shiny.
That’s a big part of the reason the market for partly and fully self-driving
vehicles could be worth $42 billion in just seven years and $77 billion by
2035, according to Boston Consulting Group. “It’s an arms race to provide the
mobility on demand,” Delphi CTO Jeff Owens told WIRED in December.
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