To help us think about their impact, let's consider how cheap self driving cars could be. We'll use the simple metric of money per kilometre and make the following assumptions:
- The year is 2039 and full Autonomous Cars (ACs) have been shipping for over a decade.
- All new ACs are electric, with an efficiency of MPGe (5km/kWh).
- The autonomous drive systems have been around for a while and are commoditized, like ABS or Traction Control systems are today. They add $ to a vehicle.
- Electricity costs $/kWh
- Our car costs $, comes with a km range, and the 100kWh battery pack has charge/discharge cycles.
- Insurance costs $/year and maintenance is $/year. The life of the car is
- The residual value after end of life is $
Given the above, our battery usable life is:
1000cycles * 500km = 500000km
5 years * ( + ) + 500000km / 5km/kWh * $5/kWh = $xxxxSo the total cost of this car is:
$xxxx + $ + $ - $ = $
Which gives us a total of:
$ * 100 / km = cents per kilometre.
Feel free to play around with the assumptions. After playing around a bit, we can see that the biggest impact, apart from the price of the car itself, comes from the quality of the battery - a larger battery with a longer life (recharge cycles) is more important than cheap electricity or a marginal improvement in efficiency (milage). This makes sense, as a car with 50 more recharge cycles will give you significantly more milage for the same buck.
Using the default assumptions, we get a price of 14 cents per km if you ride in this non-luxury, mid-size car 100,000km/year. Assuming this car is part of a taxi service and we add some profit, we can expect to pay $2 for 10km, which is quite significant as it is even cheaper than most public transit systems today.