No Driver, no Cry. Why Taxi Companies Should Keep an Eye on Driverless Cars and Start Adopting the Practice

Eugene Suslo
Jun 03, 2014

google-unveils-driverless-car-prototype

What is a driverless car 

A driverless car is a part of the Google empire. It is a car that drives itself. The software behind the vehicles is labeled Google Chauffeur. The new technology is headed by the co-founder of Google Street View, Sebastian Thrun. The technology first appeared on the scene in 2005 at the DARPA Grand Challenge, where it won and later the technology received $2 million as a prize from the U.S Department of Defence. These autonomous cars are being tested in five states across the U.S. The first state to pass a law permitting the use of this vehicle, was Nevada back in 2011. Michigan followed suite in December of 2013. The Michigan law however, demands a human must remain in the drivers seat at all times while the vehicle is operational.

 

Since operations started on the driverless vehicles there has been two reported accidents. These accidents were said to have been cause by the human driver operating the vehicle, and at no fault of the vehicle in itself or its technology. Since coming into the market ten have been put to the test. There is a Prius, Audi TT, and Lexus RX450h amongst them. The vehicle is truly smart. It has driven on rough terrain, through the steep hills in California and across the Golden Gate Bridge. Likewise the car operates at the stored speed limit provided by its mapping system and utilizes sensors to maintain safe distances from other vehicles on the road.

 

Getting rid of the driver

The driver has now become the weakest link on the road. The Google technology seeks to improve the driving experience and lessen accidents and fatalities on the road. As noted with 700,000 autonomous miles driven, the car has only been in a reported two accidents, not at the fault of the technology. This sheds light on the number of fatalities and injuries caused by human error at the wheel. The technology will also give drivers a chance to do other things. It is now more likely that the driver will be able to make phone calls, utilize their computers, as well as read and take part in other activities while on the road. They are more obsolete in the driving experience, or will be with this new technology.

 

Legitimacy of the technology

The autonomous car is a relatively new technology on the market. Its production and testing is rapidly developing. This rapid development has caused concern for some lawmakers. These lawmakers note that many laws related to driving have the human driver in mind. Almost no laws have been put in place for driverless vehicles. As stated before the technology is only legal in a few states to date, and with rapid expansion of this Goggle project underway other states will have to fall in line, or be at risk as the technology seeks to “outstrip existing laws that have been in existance since hourse drawn bugges were in play.”  At this moment Google notes that the vehicle is not ready for commercial use though as of May 28th, 2014 they have introduced the first prototype into the market. The prototype features no brake or steering wheel. In fact those portions of the car have been replaced by sensory parts.These vehicles eliminate the need for human interaction all together. Google maintains these vehicles are safe and have senors that detect blind spots, and objects two football fields away. The company is set to introduce 100 prototypes into the market, all capping 25 mph speed. They will take on safety testing over the summer, and start a pilot program in California for a few years.

 

The first law backing the technology was again passed down in Nevada. The law legitimizes the use of the driverless vehicle on the streets. The law also allows for an exemption to the distracted driving ban. This ban exemption allows occupants of the vehicle to send texts while behind the wheel. In March 2012 A Toyota Prius backed by the technology, became the first autonomous car to be licensed. For the future, Nevada plans on marking these vehicles dawn a license plate with a red background and the infinity symbol attached to mark the future of cars.

 

Becoming a reality 

Driverless cars are becoming the reality. This technology seeks to heighten the driving experience. To date there has been talk about Google starting a Robot-Taxi service. It will be the new form of transportation. On March 30, 2014 a new bill was signed into legislation in New York. The bill, or agreement rather was signed by Google and the Mayor of New York. The agreement is said to replace New York City taxis with autonomous cabs. By the end of 2014 there will be a record 5,000 driverless cabs operating in the city of New York. These vehicles will be tailored to the common New Yorker. Each will come equipped with an ATM, a vending machine stocked with tasty snacks, and “better entertainment options” for those hailing a ride. Each car in the fleet is called a zippie, while the fleet itself is called the Zipper. These cabs will be more efficient through offering 50% faster services than cabs with drivers.

 

Now that you know the technology exist, you may be wondering how you hail a ride in one of these futuristic vehicles. There are a number of ways to do that.

  • The first is to hail the taxi cab. A sensor located above the head of the vehicle will sense you, and bring the car to a halt.
  • The next option is to utilize the Zippie Android app from your smart phone technology.
  • You can also push the red button. More than 50,000 red +1 buttons will be placed around the city of New York. Press the button and the Zippie comes to you.

 

Once you have hailed the cab in one way or another, you speak your destination into what is called the G-phone located in the vehicle, or on your Zippie app. Once you have spoken your destination, you will be on your way. The cab also has the capability to recognize more than 80 languages, so hailing a cab will be easy to a foreign national or other tourist in the area. The ride will surely amaze you, though it may end up costing you a little more than usual. Likewise, the car cleans up after every passenger exits the vehicle, utilizing a 12 horsepower vacuum to suck up all the dirt.