New research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has ‘debunked’ the idea that autonomous taxis will save ride-hailing operators losing money.
Investors and Wall Street analysts are said to be pinning the premise of ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft turning profits on self-driving cars.
Business Insider reports that combined, the ride-hailing firms lost around $3.8 billion in 2019.
MIT authors Ashley Nunes and Kristen Hernandez wrote in their paper that, ‘Although the cost proposition of autonomous taxis may be improved by more closely matching supply with demand, we demonstrate that achieving maximum utilization would still leave ATs fiscally uncompetitive with conventionally driven vehicles.’
Based on data from San Francisco, a single market, MIT’s findings point to a cost between $1.58 and $6.01 per mile to operate autonomous vehicles with single occupants.
According to Business Insider this is much higher than the widely used $0.40 (or less) per mile estimate, and higher than the average costs of personal car ownership, which is around $0.59 per mile.