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What Decades of Roboshuttle Misfires Teach Us

Will robotaxis fare better than roboshuttles? We think the assumption is naïve.
AV shuttles, many trials and many interations
AV shuttles: Many trials and many iterations during 2004-2016 (Images: Carlos Holguin, CityMobile2)

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By Junko Yoshida

What’s at stake?
If you’ve been convinced that autonomous vehicles are the future for transportation systems, take a hard look at the humble roboshuttle, an early proving ground for AV concepts. Highly automated buses and shuttles have been around for a couple of decades, but few of those deployments have made it past trials to become sustained commercial enterprises. The self-driving van’s boxy build and plodding pace often get the blame for the riding public’s indifference. Unless developers and municipalities start paying proper attention to transportation market fundamentals, however, it may be naïve to assume that robotaxis will fare any better. We believe the chronic malaise of the roboshuttle business holds lessons for the broader AV industry.

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