Technology continually threatens industry after industry with revolution – sometimes even to the point of eradication. Throughout history, there are countless examples of technology displacing workers – agricultural technology has all but extinguished the need for rural labourers and even the last decade has seen the displacement of retail cashiers by self-service tills. In light of news emanating from Bristol and Tokyo, it appears that the taxi industry may be the next to go through a turbulent and potentially revolutionary period of its own.
Billions of pounds have been invested by the world’s biggest companies (regardless of their proximity to the automotive industry) to establish pole position in the race to produce the first self-driving cars. Google, Uber, Baidu and a crowd of car manufacturers count themselves among the number of parties ferociously scrambling to put out the first fleet of tried and tested, road-ready, self-driving cars.
It is within this feverish backdrop that a collaborative project between ZMP, a Japanese developer of autonomous driving technology, and the taxi company Hinomaru Kotsu, has borne fruit in Tokyo. A driverless taxi successfully transported a number of fee-paying passengers through the city, making it the very first trial of its kind. In keeping with the futuristic hue of the whole occasion, passengers paid their fares via a smartphone app. The whole occasion provides a window into the future that potentially awaits.
Earlier this month, the UK’s first electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft was built and flown in Bristol, providing another glimpse into the future of the taxi industry. With aspirations of making travel carbon free, Vertical Aerospace, a Bristol start up founded in 2016, masterminded the project. They have hopes of making intercity routes like Sheffield to Liverpool or Bristol to Liverpool viable by air taxi.
The future of the taxi
So, what does this period of innovation mean for the future of the taxi industry? Is a complete and irrevocable overhaul in the works? Most likely, no, at least as far as the next few years are concerned. At the moment, the dream of self-driving cars running the roads remains just that – a dream. A definitive date for their arrival has yet to be reached. Predictions for the emergence of autonomous cars are constantly being revised; the industry is beset not only by the kind of flaws you’d expect from a technology in its infancy, but also disputes with regulatory bodies.
The flying taxi industry suffers from the same problems. Uber’s tentative attempts to introduce the Federal Aviation Administration in the US to their flying taxi plans do not bode particularly well for Vertical Aerospace’s ambitions of navigating British skies within four years. For the time being then, it appears we are stuck with conventional road transport! The best way to travel the North West’s roads is in a Cyllenius Travel Services vehicle. Cyllenius Travel Services are, by some distance, the most effective and most reliable provider of Liverpool airport transfers and chauffeur services in Manchester; just get in touch to arrange your next trip!