Mobility as a service (MaaS) is widely considered a sustainable strategy toward future sustainability, even as OEMs watch vehicle sales fall, but the concept of shared mobility in the wake of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic could require some fundamental rethinking.

Ride-sharing powerhouses Uber and Lyft have seen a massive drop in ridership, and have in some cases reportedly suspended driver accounts due to infection concerns. In late March, Waymo, GM Cruise, and Uber stopped self-driving taxi services that included safety drivers, however a Reuters report quoted a source from Alphabet, Waymo’s parent company, who said their fully automated services would continue during the pandemic.

In theory, fully automated cars could provide a valuable service during a health crisis, as a driverless shuttle or other type of vehicle would be able to operate 24/7 and reduce human contact. However, depending on the use case, and the number of users, the possibly for infection is far from zero, as the virus in this case is able to survive for long periods of time on various surfaces.