Free Rides for everyone? Driverless delivery of customers as LOSS LEADER

As the Walmart-Waymo deal shows, in the driverless future, you might not have to pay to transport yourself. Businesses will take care of that for you.

Consider a family outing to the movies. A family of four will easily spend $75 on tickets and snacks. Suppose that’s $50 in profit for the theater (crude estimates, I know. Just play along.) The movie theater, then, has a $50 incentive to encourage the family to come to their theater, especially if there are several theaters nearby. One way to ensure clients patronize your theater would be to pay for their transportation to it. So long as the cost of transportation is less than the profit earned by their attendance, theaters will be incentivized to pay for transport. (And with 2/3 of the cost of taxis and Ubers being the driver, there remains huge possibility for ever cheaper transport by robot.)

Businesses that have high margins but also high competition– restaurants, bars, retailers– would likewise be encouraged to pay for their customers’ transportation. “Free Ride!” could become an ubiquitous promotion, to the point that it may become an expectation.

How much might amusement parks be willing to pay for park-goers to be delivered their front gates? Imagine living in Atlanta and being picked up, for FREE, at 11pm in a driverless ‘sleeper’ car, and then wake up at 7am the next day at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. It’s not as crazy as it sounds.


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