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.

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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.

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.