Imagine fleets of autonomous ride-share vehicles powered by hydrogen. It’s not a big leap when you consider Amazon is replacing battery electric forklifts with hydrogen fuel cell electric alternatives. As we discussed in our last article, lowering the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of Amazon’s warehouse material handling fleet is the main purpose behind the shift. But there’s a much bigger TCO scenario at play involving self-driving cars. How will hydrogen benefit the autonomous ride-share transformation?
1. Air Quality
Clean air is the number one goal for smart cities. It’s vital that autonomous cars be zero-emission from the day one. Uber recently stated that London drivers must use hybrid or fully electric cars from 2020. While this is a step in the right direction, autonomous ride-share will need to be ZEV everywhere.
London, Germany and South Korea already operate hydrogen fuel cell taxis. It makes sense for self-driving cabs to do the same. There’s a similar TCO at play with Amazon’s forklift trucks. Ride-share robots can patrol the streets 24/7 with minimal downtime. If a rider wants to travel a halfway across the state, no problem.
2. Traffic Congestion
A self-driving ride-share fleet can play a significant role in reducing congestion in our cities. Lyft even claims its redesigned street concept could fix L.A. traffic. Here at HyGen, we believe designated lanes for autonomous ride-share vehicles will be a boon for everyone.
When will this happen?
In a December 2016 speech, Mary Barra, CEO of GM said, “We expect to be the first high-volume auto manufacturer to build fully autonomous vehicles in a mass-production assembly plant.” The focus will be on ride-sharing, rather than the individual buyer.
Ford, Daimler & BMW have said 2021 could see fully-autonomous ride-share fleet rollouts.
3. Quick Refueling
In cities with far-flung geography like Los Angeles, robocars could be covering hundreds of miles per day. This use-case doesn’t suit battery electric vehicles. Hydrogen is a better option if you need quick refueling. Fleet owners will want their ride-share vehicles back on the job in five minutes.
A robotic-car future may sound like science fiction, but it’s more likely to happen than not – and probably sooner than you think. Autonomous ride-share ZEVs are on their way into a future near you. When the time comes, HyGen will supply the hydrogen.
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