Who cleans self-owning cars?

From the department of second order effects, here’s an interesting thought about the cost savings potentially achievable with autonomous vehicles. Recall that esp. UBER sees autonomy as a silver bullet to save their flawed unit economics. But getting proficient in fleet management will be crucial for any player in the robotaxi game. If we’re all ferried around, as a popular tech-utopian vision portrays, in self-driving on-demand vehicles owned by themselves, who cleans them?

Bloomberg speculates the never-ending process of cleaning other people’s filth will cost large firms with autonomous fleets tens of millions of dollars annually. That number swells into the billions when you account for insurance, maintenance, storage, and the accelerated devaluation of such vehicles.

Uber is desperate to make the switch to driverless vehicles as soon as technology allows it, but abandoning the vehicle’s owner could result in unforeseen costs. […]

Traditional rental companies spend anywhere from $100 to $300 per vehicle each month while maintaining their fleet. For hourly rentals, that fee is much less predictable.