Robot Shuttles: IDTechEx Report Analyses Major New Form of Transportation

IDTechEx has issued the first in-depth report on this called "Robot Shuttles and Autonomous Buses 2020-2040". Robot shuttles are an important, new, reconfigurable form of transportation for goods and people that may even function as mobile offices, workshops, restaurants and more. It finds that the heart of the subject is upright, boxy, 8-20 person vehicles that are symmetrical like small trains, and they never do U-turns. With a small footprint, all-around vision, large doors and being quiet with zero-emissions, they can go indoors and over piazzas and roads and are able to perform many different tasks, even in one day. Primarily intended for intensive urban use, they are gated to never exceed a determined speed, typically in the range 50-60 kph.

It all adds up to a new form of transport backed by both huge companies, like Toyota and Baidu, and startups, one having raised one billion dollars for the task. Their trials explore many possible applications, from empowering the poor and disabled, to viably filling in the gaps in the transportation network and replacing hopelessly underutilized vehicles, such as private cars, reducing congestion and cost. 

Out of 36 different robot shuttle models and precursors examined in 15 countries and deployed in 20, IDTechEx identifies nine with excellent designs, successful trials, strong backing and imaginative multi-purposing and can take 14 or so passengers when in bus mode. A few have over 100 units deployed. However, the technology for fully independent “Level 5” robot shuttles will not be widely deployable until later in the decade. Currently, there is usually tele-supervision and a supervisor onboard, so what is all the fuss about?

IDTechEx finds that robot shuttles read to most of the strong societal trends now with us. They include the move to cities, the demand for travel for all, including those who cannot afford or manage existing forms of transportation, and those located where demand does not justify a regular bus. Road congestion must be eliminated by banning those little used and weakly filled vehicles, such as private cars from cities, by introducing vehicles intensively used because they reconfigure in use, even go indoors, move sideways and arrive at your door. From Finland to Japan, trials show promise in viably reinstating feeder buses from villages to cities previously abandoned because of poor usage and the resulting losses.

In Switzerland, the robot PostBus even manages narrow bridges and narrow roads with both posts and passengers. Tourists love the all-round vision of the robot shuttle, but this is only the beginning.

IDTechEx predicts that robot shuttles will never plugin. Smart windows will sell advertising and make electricity, vehicle-to-grid income and other income streams. Last-mile freight is another, all raising the prospect of people traveling on the back of it. An Amazon delivery and school bus robot shuttle has been conceived. At the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics, Toyota will transport the disabled more efficiently, safely and pleasurably using its new robot shuttles. Toyota explores modes such as freighter, mobile shops and offices.

However, IDTechEx finds impediments. A large amount of electricity and money is currently needed both for the robotics and the vehicles. This will be overcome with a tsunami of new technologies. Software and telecom companies are often leading, but it is a long game delayed by inadequate autonomy as yet, so IDTechEx believes Daimler is right to shun robot shuttles to catch up to modern truck technology.

The Executive Summary presents the dreams, 10 primary conclusions, 36 models and 20 projects, and the number of robotaxis deployed by leaders and the biggest differences of robotaxis, covered in a sister IDTechEx report. It picks winners from IDTechEx's criteria and forecasts 20 years ahead, with prices tumbling for the identified reasons and a tipping point of sales, where full Level 5 autonomy may be widespread. Even the overall bus and the autonomous large bus market is forecast. See graphs of the robot shuttle hardware business of tens of billions of dollars emerging and additionally the market for associated services.

The Introduction talks through the needs, issues, originality and impediments. Chapter 3 critically appraises the 36 robot shuttle companies/models in 15 countries in detail, with the partners, stated objectives and dreams of participants named, with a profusion of photographs and drawings and SOFT reports for each.

Chapter 4 explains the huge advances in vehicle technology beyond autonomy that are ahead for robot shuttles and the key to major success, from solar, supercapacitor, color changing and self-healing bodywork to smart glass, 360-degree wheels and much more. Autonomy makes the vehicle work, but these new structures provide a profusion of income streams and business cases, a long life and near-zero maintenance. The analysis benchmarks other industries and where they are ahead with these vehicle technologies.

Chapter 5 is a deep dive into the autonomy technologies, including their integration, their cost and power reduction ahead, plus challenges. That includes details about lidar, radar, cameras, sensor fusion and more. Chapter 6 is a detailed analysis of cost and income streams, with the most detailed forecasts and background data for buses, autonomous buses, robot shuttles and earning streams for 2020-2040. It makes the IDTechEx report, "Robot Shuttles and Autonomous Buses 2020-2040" ( exceptionally thorough, insightful and up-to-date, using new information and interviews by Ph.D.-level, globetrotting analysts from IDTechEx, interviewing in local languages.

To find out more about Electric Vehicle research available from IDTechEx visit or to connect with others on this topic, IDTechEx is hosting: Emerging Materials for Electric Vehicles, May 13-14  2020, Estrel Convention Center, Berlin, Germany www.ElectricVehiclesEurope.Tech.

IDTechEx guides your strategic business decisions through its Research, Consultancy and Event products, helping you profit from emerging technologies. For more information on IDTechEx Research and Consultancy contact or visit

Media Contact:

Jessica Abineri

Marketing Coordinator

+44(0)1223 812300

Source: IDTechEx


Categories: Travel and Transportation

Tags: Automation, Autonomous Bus, Autonomous Vehicles, Electric Vehicles, Radar, Robot Shuttle, Robotics

About IDTechEx

View Website

Since 1999 IDTechEx has provided independent market research, business intelligence and events on emerging technology to clients in over 80 countries.