I just added the following point to my Robot-Car summary page.
3. The end of the ‘chicken and egg’ Catch-22.
You know the ‘chicken and egg’ problem — no company wants to build a hydrogen highway because there are no hydrogen customers, and no customers want to buy a hydrogen car because they is no hydrogen highway yet. The companies don’t want to lose a billion dollars building infrastructure that may not get used, and the customer doesn’t want to invest $25,000 in a car that may not have fuel. The robot-cab-as-service solves all this. The car company already has guaranteed customers hiring their vehicles on an as-needs basis. The company just needs to figure out the most efficient technology to supply this, and can change car systems over gradually. Robot cars on the new charging or filling system will do what they can within the allowable range of their charging or fuelling infrastructure. If cars are limited one afternoon, they may even drive someone to the edge of their filling range, and then let the person swap robot-cabs into one on the established filling system. There would probably be an established discount if you have to car-swap on a trip. It will be that flexible.
Consumers are not making a decision about what car they’re buying for the next 14 years, but what car they are hiring for the next 14 minutes! Because we will just spot-hire the latest state of the art robot car, we will not care what the car runs on or how it was recharged. Think about what that means. Robot cars are expected to clock up so many miles they only last a year or two. They’ll always be running on the latest tech, and we’ll always be hiring the latest thing! So what kind of robot-electric will you hire? Will you care, as long as it is clean and gets you there on time, allowing a short nap in the meantime? You’ll be too busy reading, talking, or snoozing. This is an essential point: if a robot-cab company decides to change their charging infrastructure over to some new plug or gizmo (or even hydrogen hose), does it mean all the car charging ports in America have to change? I can’t see any reason it has to. They can test it on a small fraction of their customers in one city. They’ll have plenty of cars on the existing network to pick up any problems. You’ll just jump in and hire that car that day, and may not notice anything different. If there was a charging problem and the new robot-cab breaks down, another will be along to serve you. Indeed, one city might have dozens of different companies running dozens of different charging systems or hydrogen hoses, and we just would not care one way or the other. We’re just hiring that car for that trip. Even the hypothetical hydrogen economy actually becomes easier when a company decides they’re going to wean off expensive lithium in a (hypothetical future) world approaching lithium limits. They’ll move to a model where they just produce the hydrogen they require in their warehouses the night before they need it. After all, all a hydrogen fuelling station needs is water and a power source! Nuclear has the EROEI to drive all this.