Zombie robotaxis are actually superior to a traditional taxi when moving in non-rider mode, because the empty robotaxi doesn’t carry the hundreds of pounds of a human taxi driver, nor does it run air conditioning in hot weather. At scale, this could be an important factor in assessing sustainability. Someone should calculate the net energy savings!
City based fee structures on robotaxis are a very promising policy tool which can encourage use of electric vehicles, less roaming, higher occupancy, and more. These costs will be reflected in customer pricing, affecting the service offerings so that the size of the vehicles and number of seats available are finely tuned to customer demand. While cities may apply such rules, be assured that the private sector operators will apply extensive engineering to minimize their “zero trip” time while moving, due to energy costs and vehicle wear and tear. Cities and operators working together are the right way to rid our streets of zombies.