Have tech giants beaten automakers to the robotaxi?

It is easy to admire the advances that Silicon Valley’s finest have made so far. But is Big Tech ahead of the pack, or just more vocal? By Freddie Holmes

Special report: What’s the secret to making the perfect robotaxi?

Given the level of investment behind autonomous vehicles (AVs) to date, it is understandable that an air of competition surrounds the sector. Automakers have offered the same basic products for decades, and the chance to completely revolutionise the driving experience will bring more than just bragging rights. For those in Big Tech, the new business models that can be supported by driverless vehicles seem too lucrative to ignore.

And so the race has begun to commercialise a self-driving vehicle. Automakers once envisioned a conventional car that could serve as a private shuttle, but the tech industry has set its sights on shared robotaxis. Automakers have been forced to follow suit or risk losing those potential revenue streams to new entrants. If it is a race, it is unclear exactly who is winning.

Apple Palo Alto store
Apple’s self-driving car project is shrouded in mystery, while Google has gone full bore

Perhaps the most prominent figure…