The concept of ride-sharing has changed a lot over the last couple of decades. In the 1980s and ‘90s, it referred to carpooling. People who needed to reach the same destination at the same time would get in the same car. The concept works well for employees who live and work in similar areas. More recently, ride-sharing apps have facilitated the planning and matching of both drivers and riders.
Many experts believe that IoT (Internet-of-Things) connected cars will lead another evolution of ride-sharing underpinned by distributed ledger technologies like blockchain.
The Current State of Ride-Sharing
Today’s ride-sharing technology doesn’t rely on IoT connected cars. Instead, it relies on smartphones that connect drivers with riders.
Uber and Lyft, which stand out as the most popular ride-sharing companies in the United States, serve millions of people every day. One estimate shows that Uber gives rides to about 40 million people each month worldwide. Lyft provides about 14 million rides per month.
As more cars become connected to the internet, you can expect to see more drivers rely on car dashboards rather than their smartphones. Recent infotainment systems developed by Ford, Honda and several other manufacturers integrate smartphone apps into the car dashboard through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Ride-sharing has, up until now, been dependent on matching drivers and riders. Autonomous cars could disrupt this by replacing drivers with vehicles that can perform tasks independently.
Honda has already revealed an electric ride-sharing concept car called NeuV. The concept car can earn money when its owner doesn’t need it. Instead of parking the car in a garage, the self-driving car would pick up passengers and deliver them to their destinations for a fee.
Look to the Future
In the future, you will see an infrastructure sophisticated enough to keep all vehicles connected to each other and working in coordinated ways. Autonomous vehicles will be connected to other (IoT) devices enabling vehicles to transport people and things in much more efficient ways. This will mean that autonomous vehicles will become truly independent – able to recharge and park on its own – and pay for these types of services as well.
As completely autonomous fleets of vehicles appear, individual car ownership will become a rarity, driven by much lower per trip unit economics provided by autonomous vehicles.