Re: I'm not sure I see how they get to profitability
"Once their self-driving vehicles are perfected, there goes the labor cost as the drivers are dumped, but then they have to buy, fuel and maintain all the Johnny-cabs and delivery trucks themselves, which is currently handled by their drivers/serfs. So suddenly they become a capital-intensive high fixed cost business, probably still pricing very aggressively."
I'm not completely sure that that's the final plan. Basically, as we have seen elsewhere, Uber uses the "drivers are independent workers" argument to try to shield themselves from any liabilities of being a taxi company. Why would they want to take on the liabilities of owning and operating a fleet of robocars?
I'm wondering whether the plan isn't to lease/sell the cars and license the routing service. They get the lease/sale money up front and a percentage of the delivery fees charged for the routing service, while the owner/lessee gets the bulk of the delivery fees in exchange for, essentially, opening the gate to let them out in the morning and plugging them in at night. The o/o is liable for damages, etc., because they're the owner of record. And, in this sort of a scenario, the most likely owner/operators are taxi/delivery companies who've laid off their fleshy drivers in favor of the new system. They're used to running fleets of vehicles and taking the bulk of the profits, so this just shifts who's getting the smaller cut from a bunch of drivers to one company.
Uber maintains their "we're not responsible for anything; we just want the money," business model, the currently existing taxi/delivery companies keep THEIR business model, and the only ones getting screwed are the drivers (and customers).