Here come the self-driving taxis


FOR THE first time in decades, a futuristic transportation technology is on the verge of going mass market. It is not quite flying cars, but autonomous taxis—or “robotaxis”, as they are sometimes called. They will transform cities and business travel, and will hit some other industries hard on the way too.

Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet, a tech firm, is planning to launch the world’s first commercial driverless taxi service early next month in Phoenix, Arizona. Waymo, which has yet to announce a name or launch date for the service, is also aiming to put autonomous taxis on the streets of California next year. Daimler and Bosch, respectively a carmaker and an engineering firm from Germany, announced this month that they would launch a self-driving ride-hailing service in San Jose, California, next year. General Motors, an American carmaker, is also hoping to launch a robotaxi service next year using its Cruise vehicles. Zoox, a tech startup, aims to put its own all-electric self-driving taxis on the road by 2020.

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