I Love my Driverless Hotel Showroom

People on a PlaneBack in the day I when I first used to sell scanning systems to supermarkets. I’d hop on a plane and fly somewhere like Napier, get into a rental car and then drive to visit all the large owner operated supermarkets between there and New Plymouth. It would take me around 3 days. A lot of that time was spent driving or waiting to see the owner.

What a difference to the hotelpod I use today. When they came out in 2025, everyone thought it was a load of hype. Who would bother?

So now I leave the night before. I take my guitar, a demo system that the engineers put in before sending it on to me, and settle in to relax on the drive down in the executive sized hybrid pod. It arrives in Napier during the night and when I wake up at 6AM, it has already docked into the hotel proper, so I can have a nice hot shower and catch up on the news on the 75″ TV.

I go down to the restaurant and enjoy a fresh flat white with my buffet breakfast, go back to my room and make sure everything is back in the pod before it un-docks and takes me to my first supermarket call.

Instead of waiting in the queue of sales people and merchandisers, I have a wander around the store and look at how things are working, chat with a few of the staff and then head back to the pod, for a one-on-one with the owner operator, who is curious to see the pod and the new 3D scanning system I’ve brought with me to show him.

He’s curious about my travel mode, so I take him for a drive along the freeway, building my relationship with him over a coffee. I probably should get a commission from the manufacturer because I think he’s deciding to buy one himself to replace the old Winnebago, which was great in its day, but pretty tiring as a way of having a holiday.

We have a good discussion about his aged stock, the concept of putting people on checkouts as a novel way of building a relationship with customers again and I soon take my leave.

As I hop back in the pod at 9AM, heading for my second call of the day, I record a video proposal for my prospect I have just visited, with stats based on how I can improve his stock using 4D heat maps of the product groups I believe have a lot of upside; and a presentation of the ROI I believe the system will deliver with 18 months.

The pod advises me that there has been an accident ahead, a serious one between a Level 4 and an old school car that has left the road closed. It recommends that I switch the order of my visits, so I have my Virtual Assistant shuffle my meetings with my clients’ Va and she confirms that my next call is now 90 minutes away. I relax and catch up on some email Yep still that dreaded Inbox, as I head to my next stop.

On Friday night, the pod drops me back home at around 7 PM. 10 years earlier, that’s the time I would have been waiting on my luggage at the airport, having seen the still heavily congested traffic on the motorway from the air and it would have been more like home at 9PM tired and frazzled. I unload my kit and the guitar (I wrote a new song on the way home called Blues in an Airconditioned Pod), and greet the family, probably feeling more relaxed and refreshed than they are. The pod heads back to the office where they will remove the scanning demo kit and release it for housekeeping to ready it for the next happy traveller.

The Day of the Thousand, When Taxis Shut Down the Driver-less Ubers

Remember back in 2017 when Volvo said that they would indemnify any owners of their autonomous cars that were involved in an accident? Funny after a few fatal crashes, car manufacturers changed their minds on that option.

So about a month after Uber let loose a thousand autonomous Ubers on the road, taxi drivers started playing pranks onĀ  the driverless cars, and last Friday cabbies almost brought transport to a standstill as they fought to keep their jobs relevant and encourage people to only use taxis driven by a human.

How did they do it? It was so simple. They based the idea on the observation that hardly anyone knows how to indicate correctly on a roundabout and don’t get me started on 4-way stops!

So anyway, based on the fact that people typically indicate when they are going into a roundabout, but don’t indicate when they leave it, causing confusion for other drivers who have to guess whether they are exiting or continuing around, some ‘smart’ person encouraged all taxi drivers and supporters to do the same thing.

So next thing you know, loads of drivers are indicating that they were continuing to stay on the roundabout when they weren’t. Human drivers, being used to poor driver etiquette drove as usual, but the risk averse driverless Ubers detected the indicators and waited until the offending car had clearly vacated the roundabout, by which time the next car arrived and did the same.

As a consequence, arterial roads all over the city came to a standstill while the 1,000 Ubers patiently waited for a gap to continue driving, creating absolute mayhem for commuters, people taking their kids to school and public bus services. With the gridlock came fares in the many hundreds of dollars, even for short trips, which will probably take a month of Sundays to unravel as Uber fights to restore customer confidence.

The challenge was identified already back in 2019 when many industry pundits said that unless driverless cars were able to think as humans, rationally irrational, sharing the highways where 85% of cars are still manually driven, there would be major hurdles to overcome.

Fortunately for Uber, these cars still had steering wheels and the ability for a driver to over-ride the controls or the 1,000 as they are now known, might have been consigned to scrap. Suddenly there was a massive demand for human drivers again and they were calling on the many people who had helped them become successful in the first place.

Car Manufacturers are said to be offering huge sums of money to indenture bright young students to take up Deep Learning qualifications in the nations universities. They say they need thousands of people to work on developing knowledge based systems that are adaptable to the whims of humans. In the meantime, they are going back to the 2020 models of car, which were limited to driver assist technology.

Autonomous Car Graveyard

Well it started at some university in the Midwest as an Orientation Week prank but then it grew legs and for a week, cities all over the US came close to grinding still. The idea was simple. Whenever they had an autonomous car behind them, drivers would slow down to a crawl.

With so many people doing it, the autonomous cars couldn’t overtake and cities ground to a halt. People waited for their driverless Uber and Lyft cars, that arrived an hour late. People who had sent their cars home to park waited seemingly forever to get their ride home. By the end of the week many people were lining up for public transport that couldn’t cope with the dramatic increase in demand and even with reduced traffic the roads were still reduced to a procession. The only thing missing was the marching band leading the cortege.

Mayors threatened to change bylaws to make it illegal to drive slow and asked universities to reign in their students, but by then everyone who loved driving or had a prankish sense of humor joined in and the freeways and arterials crawled like a funeral procession, flashing their lights and beeping their horns.

After a week or so the novelty wore off and life returned to normal. Many a tale was told around the bar table about the personal impacts while they waited for their cars to come an pick them up.

Alexa Changed my Life AND Has Almost Stopped TXTing and Driving

Crushing It CoverI first installed Alexa on my iPhone back in ’18 after reading the @garyvee book Crushing It: How Great Entrepreneurs Build Their Business and Influence and How You Can Too.

I knew about Voice First Technology of course. I had been using Siri for ages and played round with Cortana which was a little less impressive. I just didn’t feel I needed it on my laptop. I still touch-type fast.

When Alexa started connected to my WiFi and Bluetooth displays, things changed. I had a mix of audio and video in the rooms in the house where I wanted it. Then there’s my car.

I didn’t get to CES 2018 unfortunately but I didn’t really need to. I got the picture from videos.

A big difference was getting Alexa in my car.

Navdy goneOf course I already had my Navdy, which had hand gestures but the company went under as I was waiting for my software update, because the navigation maps were no longer current. I can’t tell you how gutted I was about that. I’m still using it, but a lot of the new freeways and subdivisions aren’t on it. With Alexa a lot of the the other features are now redundant.

Anyway, two major things happened.

One is how my life has changed with VFT and the other is that distracted driving accidents from people TXTing and driving have reduced by about 10% each year for the last 5 years and its not because of driverless cars. They STILL haven’t become popular. I guess people still enjoy the drive. I still do, that’s why I have a Corvette right? I didn’t buy a muscle machine so it could drive me.

This is a little bit of what my day looks like with Alexa

I wake naturally, I have a good body clock. I ask Alexa the weather. She says its 11 degrees (That’s just under 52 degrees for my American readers.) and we are heading for a high of 15 C.

I get her to turn up the climate control for the lounge dining area and go to the bathroom where she is connected to my shower speaker from AliExpress and get my personalized news. I have a mix of New Zealand news as well as CNN and BBC.

Then its time for a traffic report. It’s school holidays so it is only going to take me half an hour to travel the 12 km to work, that’s great. I can linger over breakfast (asking her to add milk and English muffins to my grocery list) and dictate my morning vlog.

20160507_153136 (2)I get Alexa to open the garage door and unlock my front door and the car, she points out that I am not carrying my phone and gives it a quick chirp so I know where it is.

I start up my driveway to work, confirming she has locked the front door and closed the garage door, all the lights are off as is the electric towel rail which I always used to forget to switch off! ; and I get her to open Spotify (yes I’m still using it) and start my Daily Playlist 5.

I don’t use Alexa much at work, except while I am walking to the Sushi shop the long way and listen to a podcast. It’s an open plan office.

On the way home, I use it to ask Gaspy where the cheapest 98 octane fuel is for my car. It’s getting very expensive and not many gas stations have it any more.

When I have my tank full ($150! Petrol is heavily taxed and way more expensive than in the US or just about anywhere else in the world), I turn on the heat pump at home to 24 degrees so the house will be nice and warm when I get in and turn on the front door and hall lights.

She opens the garage door and front door as I’m getting ready to reverse into the garage.

My wife isn’t due home for another hour so I get Alexa to order our usual Chinese takeout from Uber Eats for 7 PM. I’m not much of a cook and we couldn’t cook a meal cheaper than that for two anyway.

Getting changed I ask Alexa for another news update and for my fitness info. I only walked 3,000 steps today, a little over 3 KM. Most of that was the 2 km circuit I do after I buy my sushi.

I then play a quick game of poker online and use Alexa to translate the Portuguese that the Brazilians are talking because it frustrates me that I can’t understand them and they often dominate the table. Then I get Alexa to translate my English and dictate it back to them, telling them to pull their heads in. They lol.

We sit down for dinner in the lounge and Alexa finds where we are at on Suits Series 12 and casts it on the 85″ TV that I finally managed to get spousal approval for, on the basis that the US Tennis Open would look so much better on the 16k TV screen. The resolution is way better than being there and the sound is amazing. I’m still frustrated that they are not broadcasting 3D, but she doesn’t like it anyway.

Bedtime and Alexa turns off the heat pump and the lights, as we leave the lounge. she confirms the front door is locked and it’s goodnight world.

Just another day.

 

 

 

Mercedes Files Amygdala Hive Patent to Emulate Human Emotions to Improve Autonomous Car Safety

Congestion GermanyAfter a spate of high speed crashes on European Motorways involving large numbers of vehicles, Mercedes has come up with a solution for their Level 5 autonomous vehicles that emulates the way the human brain accelerates its processing power during a critical event like a car crash.

Whilst even today with some 30% of vehicles on the road being fully autonomous, there are still frequent car crashes on the autobahns and motorways involving large numbers of vehicles. “The 6G telecommunications network has improved speed of communications” according to the Mercedes Head of Motoring Brain Sciences, Tolle Gerhirnbox, “meaning that we can invoke a large number of virtual servers, replicating the increased speed of thought in the human brain during the fight or flight response. We believe that we can reduce the number of vehicles caught up in these large scale crashes which sometimes involve 30 or more vehicles and cost many lives.”

He explained that traditional computing systems did not have the speed or processing power to deal with complex concurrent events in the way the human mind does when it perceives danger, for example taking into consideration a 360 view of events as they occur in real time including, weather conditions, human behaviour, flying debris and other elements which allow a human brain to go into an accelerated mode.

Gerhirnbox went on to say that even though the Mercedes V2V system was proprietary to their brand of motor vehicle, (ed: despite the attempt to legislate common systems back in 2023), they could share information with the BMVI V2I system, alerting other brands of car that there is a serious crash ahead and forcing them to slow down.

He went on to say “If we can force the 30% of vehicles that are being autonomous on the highway to slow down, many lives can be saved because other vehicles will also be forced to slow down at critical times.”

Mercedes Amygdala Hive is being tested on the German A9 Autobahn to evaluate the impact on all motorway users to see how quickly all vehicles can be slowed down during a major unplanned event.

 

Driverless Cars Going Nowhere in America

TRaffic jam10 years ago they introduced incentives for people to purchase driverless cars. They also encouraged shared ownership designed to reduce the number of cars on the road. They have in fact reduced the level of car ownership, but instead of spending an average of 3% of their time on the road, just privately owned cars are doing 10 times the number of trips that the average car did and this is causing gridlock with major traffic jams throughout the country.

Take the example of the Jones family in Sherman Oaks, CA. Dad goes to work at 6 in the morning while Mum gets the kids ready for school. While they finish their breakfast the car is coming back from central Los Angeles to pick up the kids, take them to school and then back home to Mum who has a part time job in San Fernando. She doesn’t have a car park, so the car goes back home and then the reverse happens in the evening. All in all the one car does around 11 trips during peak hours. Previously they had 2 cars, but they only did 4 trips including taking the kids to school.

So we halved the number of cars but the number of car trips has increased dramatically. DOT’s around the country are investigating platooning, peak hour tolls and other technologies to try and reduce the impact of this new phenomenon which is grinding urban centers around the country to a halt.