Stories

Tackling the task of deploying and routing self-driving cars

A robot driving a car
Photo: Erik Dreyer/Getty Images

Automated vehicles, when they are ready, won't magically deploy themselves into robo-taxi services. They will require sophisticated dispatch and routing software like Uber and Lyft use today to match passengers with vehicles and get them to their destination.

Why it matters: Most AV developers don't specialize in routing. They're focused on the AI and robotics necessary for vehicles to drive themselves.

  • To become a viable business, self-driving cars will have to be deployed as a transportation service that is safe, reliable and affordable.

What's happening: RideOS, a San Francisco-based startup founded by former Uber engineers, has developed an open-source platform that any company can use to create its own ride-hailing network.

  • It's the first time a set of ride-hailing applications has been open-sourced, allowing customers to rebrand or build new features on top of RideOS' technology.
  • The Ridehail platform is compatible with both human- and robot-driven vehicles.

Among its initial customers is Voyage, the self-driving startup focused on ride-hailing in retirement communities, whose CEO, Oliver Cameron, is glad to tap RideOS' expertise.

  • "We will always focus on what we do best, which is providing autonomous vehicle technology," he tells Axios. "We're not the world's best at building routing, pricing or apps."

What to watch: There's no reason Uber or Lyft couldn't squash a startup like RideOS if they decided to resell their own routing and dispatch software to other companies. It's basic plumbing, after all. So far, there's no sign that they plan to.