Salvaging the MaaS Opportunity: Developing Robotaxis for Use in the City

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By James Hodgson | 4Q 2020 | IN-5947


Robotaxis: Down, but Not Out


For any disruptive technology, targeted at any market, there must be a “killer app,” a concrete use case with a well-defined ROI to dictate investment, M&A, and go-to-market strategies. For autonomous vehicle technologies, that “killer app” is the Mobility as a Service (MaaS) opportunity. While improving driver safety through better obstacle detection and collision avoidance can be achieved with active safety/ADAS technology, only a comprehensive autonomous vehicle system can kickstart MaaS into the mainstream, driving down the cost per mile of shared mobility modes below that of conventional car ownership.

COVID-19 has proved a potent accelerant to the process of rationalization and consolidation in the AV ecosystem, with severe consequences for a long tail of AV software developers built on a premise of “robotaxi by 2020 or bust.” This begs the question: is there any future for MaaS and its foundational robotaxi technology, or should AV technology developers return their focus to semi-autonomous functions targeted at the traditional passenger ca…

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