Taxi fleets are projected to be fully automated within the next several years, which might also create new in-car marketing opportunities.
The exact time frame appears to be unclear, with some research citing self-driving taxi fleets by 2020 and others reporting by 2030.
However, the common theme is that taxis will see some sort of automation in the future.
Automating taxi fleets could decrease average wait times for consumers by up to 23%, according to a recent study from The University of Virginia and The University of Texas at Austin.
That research also predicts the market potential for automated taxi fleets to ultimately reach up to 39% of the transportation markets within mid-sized cities.
Uber is already piloting self-driving SUVs in Pittsburgh, but the vehicles are still a long way off from driving themselves without a person behind the wheel.
Along with the self-driving aspect of autonomous taxi fleets comes an overall increase in connectivity within the vehicles, which some say may bring new advertising opportunities.
Taxis currently utilize internal connected systems to display advertising, but since that network is not connected to the broader Internet, marketers and advertisers are limited in their targeting abilities, David Hewitt, global mobility lead at SapientNitro, told the IoT Daily.
As a result, the messaging and advertisements currently served in those taxis are being designed without the broader network capabilities in mind, Hewitt says.
“Right now, we get fronted with looping clips of morning talk shows and perfume spots by companies that are used to running highway billboard ads,” Hewitt said.
“Not too far into the future the ads will be contextually presented and may also be served up as bite-sized services instead of just targeted display advertising.”
When taxis become another part of the Internet of Things, advertising within them can then be treated as another node in the consumer journey, rather than an isolated event, according to Hewitt.
The key power behind this connectivity is giving marketers and advertisers context, a topic that has also come up from other agencies in discussions about wearables.
“What will be different when true automated taxi fleets hit is that they will be backed with a much more sophisticated ad network that integrates with identity, wallet and itinerary to name a few,” Hewitt told the Daily.
“Through voice, we won't have to worry about tapping screens and we will be able to continue the conversation after stepping out of the vehicle.”