Argumental: Is Ride-Sharing a Thing of the Past?
According to Business Insider in 2017, hundreds of millions of people have used ridesharing to some capacity. Regarding the percentage of the population, anywhere from 20% (Germany) to 51% (China) have used ride-sharing. What this tells us is that, as a business model, it’s a giant of an industry.
While these companies are mapped across the globe, does today’s dominance guarantee tomorrow? Ever since science-fiction entered the minds and dreams of the public, the idea of autonomous services has been present. These dreams have then jumped from page to practice in recent generations.
And with autonomous vehicles moving from if to when: has ride-sharing become a thing of the past?
Ride-Sharing is fast becoming obsolete
The likes of Uber have moved from resting on laurels to decline in areas like south-east Asia. According to the Financial Times, Uber is making tracks in South-East Asia, selling in exchange for 27.5% stake in a native competitor. While not spelling out the demise of services of the same ilk, it shows an unstable marketplace.
Uber, having suffered a string of controversies due to its drivers and regulations, is haemorrhaging money. This need to preserve reputation and maintain profitability are two of the reasons why obsolescence will happen. By 2020, autonomous cars will be publicly accessible and widespread across the UK with demo’s already taking place.
Given the success of these tests within urban areas such as Greenwich, this time-frame appears somewhat pessimistic. The reduction of cost and need for accountability for drivers are just some ways in which companies will embrace this technology.
Automation cuts costs
One of the attributing factors in any business, according to Thomas Sowell, is the ability to cut costs. With AI and increasing levels of automation entering our lives, companies are capitalising fast. This allows mainstream companies to reduce costs and maximise effectiveness for their users.
Obsolescence? Not just yet
Yes, progress has been made regarding AI and Blockchain’s uses in transportation. But as of this year, ride-sharing companies rest on gilded laurels with Uber as one among many. As referenced previously, Business Insider’s piece demonstrated that a significant percentage of the global population uses these services.
That’s the equivalent of tens of millions of people using these services on a reliable basis. Making them lucrative and exceptionally popular. In China alone, Didi Chuxing offers its services to approximately 400 million people across 400 cities. Demonstrating that any decline would be a long one, if and when it happens.
The operative word needs to be ‘becoming’ on the subject of obsolescence. And that while AI is making a competitive argument for implementation, much like paper/metal money, there will always be a nucleus of people that use it. And far from seeing companies like Uber collapse in the wake of a new transport eco-system. We are seeing them, among others, adapt to the new state of affairs in the market.
According to The Financial Times, last year Uber bought up 27,000 driverless cars to act as an autonomous fleet. This news demonstrates two distinct things. The first is that ride-sharing remains a giant of an industry, but the second shows a slow transition, rather than outright redundancy.