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 on  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.

PUBER Startup Gains Traction and Provides Employment for Powerless People

ev chargerRecent startup PUBER has signed a major contract with a Chinese manufacturer to produce hundreds of thousands of trailered EV chargers as they roll out their new mobile charging service for electric vehicles that have run out of power on the road.

These new devices have power adaptors for most brands of electric cars and can charge them back to full charge in around half an hour.

CEO Max Power said that one of the things he was really pleased about was being able to provide self employment opportunities for people who had lost their incomes when companies like Uber and Lyft made the shift to driverless cars. “It’s kind of ironic”, he said from his home in Chattanooga TN ” that we are offering employment to people whose livelihoods disappeared when these companies replaced the people who built their business with autonomous cars.”

He went on to say that PUBER was launched in a think tank at the 10th annual Chattanooga startup week and immediately gained traction with investors who recognised that there was a major opportunity with a growing trend of people running out of electricity during their trips. “Many people haven’t made the mental shift from having cars that can drive for 500 miles on a tank, to a car that can only do about 200 miles. Many forget to charge them up and overestimate how far they can go when they get back in.”

Owner operators buy one or more towable trailers fitted with a large powerpack and power adaptors for most brands of car. Customers have a mobile app which allows them to send their GPS location, prepayment and a service request to the nearest PUBER operator who can’t wait to get them on the road again.

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.

Boy Racers Make Sport With Driverless Cars

Driverless Car photo by Steve Jurvetson

Driverless Car photo by Steve Jurvetson

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A dangerous new sport has started with boy racers trying to run driverless cars off the road. Car manufacturers fight back by capturing video and emailing to police services.

Whilst the concept of driverless cars has been well accepted and offered mobility and new levels of freedom to many users including blind and disabled people, a new challenge has arisen. Boy racers growing bored with illegal street racing have found new antics to amuse themselves and endanger others.

Driverless cars have been designed to deal with a wide range of conditions, able to monitor the speed of vehicles around them and deal with weather and other hazardous conditions. One thing that was never anticipated was dealing with deliberate erratic driving behaviour from other motorists.

Several incidents have occurred where drivers have deliberately swerved into the path of these vehicles which in several cases have resulted in hit and run accidents.

Following meetings between car manufacturers and law enforcement agencies, an emergency feature has now been installed into the car computers. These cars already have several external facing cameras mounted on them and are connected to the cloud anywhere that cellular mobile services are available. The camera software has been enhanced and is currently being tested with a number of new software features including car make and model, color and number plate recognition.

A 911 feature is also being tested,  so that if an incident occurs, the occupant can transmit video combined with the data collected to the nearest emergency call centre, complete with their GPS coordinates and the direction they are driving in. The boy racers may very soon find themselves racing to find themselves behind bars and not the kind that serve alcohol.