Robotaxis are vehicles that use artificial intelligence (AI) technology to drive autonomously, without the need for a human driver on board. They are equipped with advanced sensors and software that allow them to sense and navigate traffic, avoid obstacles and make driving decisions autonomously.
Robotaxis can be called via a smartphone app and can be used as a shared transportation service, similar to traditional ride-hailing services. The main objective of these vehicles is to reduce traffic congestion and improve road safety. Some companies, such as Waymo, Uber, and Tesla, are developing and testing their own robotaxis.
The first robotaxi
The first known robotaxi was developed by nuTonomy, a company later acquired by Aptiv, in 2016, in Singapore. The first road tests were carried out with a limited number of vehicles and only in specific areas of the city. However, the company has continued to expand its services and in 2018 launched a robotaxi service open to the public called "nuRide". In addition, several other companies, such as Waymo and Uber, have begun testing their robot taxis in different cities in the United States and in other countries.
The use today of robotaxi
Robotaxis are currently used in a few select cities around the world. For example, Waymo, a subsidiary of Alphabet (the Google holding company), has begun testing its robotaxis in Phoenix, Arizona, in the United States. Uber has begun testing its self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In Singapore, the company nuTonomy launched a publicly accessible robotaxi service called "nuRide" in 2018. In China, the robotaxi company Didi Chuxing has begun testing its autonomous vehicles in Shanghai. In addition, many other cities and countries are exploring the use of robotaxis, including Tokyo, London, Dubai and Amsterdam.
However, the commercial use of robotaxis is still limited and most of the robotaxis currently in use are in the testing and experimentation stages.
Robotaxis, like any other self-driving vehicle, have some safety risks. The main risks are:
Technology failure: Robotaxis are powered by advanced software and sensors, but these can fail or be compromised by hackers.
Perception errors: robotaxis use sensors to perceive their surroundings, but these can be hampered by adverse weather conditions or lack of adequate road signs, causing perception errors.
Decision errors: robotaxis make driving decisions autonomously, but these decisions may be incorrect or not compliant with traffic regulations.
Interaction with other road users: Robotaxis may find it difficult to interact with other road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, due to their inability to understand the intentions of other road users.
Privacy concerns: Robotaxis collect and transmit large amounts of data about their passengers and their surroundings, raising concerns about privacy and data security.
To address these risks, robotaxi companies are investing in research and development to improve the safety of their vehicles, and government officials are issuing regulations to ensure that robotaxis meet safety standards.
Cyber risks for robotaxis
Robotaxis, like any other internet-connected device, are susceptible to hacker attacks. Cybercriminals can use various techniques to compromise robotaxi systems and cause security problems. Some examples of possible attacks are:
Overload Attacks: Can send a large number of requests to a robotaxi's system to cause a system crash or slowdown.
Phishing attacks: can send fraudulent emails or text messages to convince robotaxi users to share sensitive information, such as their login credentials.
Social engineering attacks: can use persuasion techniques to convince robotaxis users to install malicious software or provide sensitive information.
Malware attacks: They can use malicious software to compromise robotaxi systems and cause security problems.
GPS spoofing attacks: can send false location signals to confuse robotaxis and cause accidents.
To prevent these attacks, robotaxi companies must implement adequate security measures, such as data encryption, user identity verification, and security incident detection and response. Additionally, government officials are issuing regulations to ensure that robotaxis meet safety standards.