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Where exactly does Uber get the cars for this? Are they just going to maintain all of this, then they're literally a robot taxi company and I have no idea why that is so much more lucrative than being a human taxi company, especially given that urban traffic is probably not going to be fully autonomous for a long, long time.

what stops anybody from spinning up a p2p solution for car sharing that cuts out Uber?

Yeah, they (or someone who replaces them) are a robot taxi company. They own and operate a large fleet so their costs of acquisition and maintenance are much lower than a P2P solution.

if that's actually the plan then the next question is what the differentation is. Everybody can buy robot cars (and probably will), and they'll all compete themselves to death as they already do.

The problem is that there's no significant economies of scale to the taxi industry. You don't make drivers much more efficient by having more of them, and there's an induced demand problem where the limitations of cities and traffic mean that you just cannot scale up to infinity.

This is by the way why there's no enormous single individual taxi company in the existing market. Taxi business tends to be small and competitive for this very reason. It's an extremely ill suited environment for a technology startup.

Absolutely agree. I don't buy this whole 'Robot cars' will make Uber / Grab / Lyft profitable stuff.

If self-driving tech really becomes so good that it will make tons of money, then why let Uber etc have that market? There is zero that differentiates them. Everyone can put a booking app together and optimise it over a few years (see the many international copy cats who have done just that).

Then why wouldn't a self-driving-manufacturing leader (whoever that will be, Tesla, GM, BNW, a Geely or other Chinese player, doesn't matter) run fleets themselves? It's not like there's much human cost involved. (and manufacturers already got their service networks and charging networks together where self driving vehicles could go at night to be charged/serviced)

I'm guessing not a manufacturer. They haven't historically wanted to get into fleet management beyond some side investments. But the rental car companies (both long-term and short-term) seem likely players as soon as self-driving is reliable off-the-shelf tech. Which I expect to be a long while in the areas dense enough for taxi services to work well.

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