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Driverless taxis

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Driverless taxis

Post by John-B » Sat Jan 20, 2018 10:32 am

There's a letter in today's paper about driverless cars on narrow roads and it set my mind thinking about a typical scenario based on an actual location.

Assume you are at Temple Meads station and there is a driverless taxi waiting for you. It's locked so you shout through the window "I'd like to go to Frenchay". The door opens, but you have a suitcase so you put that in the boot (trunk) which also unlocked, then get into the taxi's back seat with a friend. The automatic voice says "what's the postcode?" and you say BS16 1ND" (which is between a house where I used to live and Kevin Bennett's house). Off you go.

When you reach the post code the satnav tells the taxi's computer "You have reached your destination" so the automatic voice says "which house?". Now BS16 1ND is a fairly long narrow road and it's dark and snowing. The road runs next to a common and there is a gritter lorry coming the other way. Does the taxi know that it has to move onto the soft grass verge which can't be seen under the snow and avoid a few stone marker posts? If both vehicles stop, which moves first?

Assuming the gritter lorry has been avoided and the house is on Google Maps, the taxi pulls up outside Cedar Hall which is an old house converted into flats. (If the house is a new building not yet on Google, what happens?). The entrance has electric gates so a passenger has to get out and use the intercom to get the gates opened. The taxi starts off, but leaves one passenger outside in the snow because he shut the taxi door.

The taxi goes up a long drive but doesn't know where to stop because there are several flat entrances and the drive is fairly featureless in the snow. Presumably a passenger has to say "stop". The automatic voice says "£15 please" and expects a credit card in a slot as cash is not acceptable. What happens if the cost is disputed or the passenger can't pay?

The passenger gets out, removes the suitcase from the boot and shuts the door and the taxi moves off, returning down the drive not realising that it's a circular drive and it is going the wrong way.

The taxi stops at the gates which swing open automatically, but the taxi has stopped too close and the gates hit the taxi. The taxi has its brakes on but does it realise it has to reverse to let the gates open fully?

Eventually the taxi gets through the gates and returns to the station.

Other scenarios - what happens if the road is closed, or a diversion sign is there? Can the taxi read temporary signs like road closed or flooding? How would it avoid other vehicles stuck in deep snow?

All the above matters are very predictable, but are driverless car computers up to the task yet? Presumably the car computer needs to be much better than current standards in communicating with a passenger, possibly in any language, just like normal conversation.

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Re: Driverless taxis

Post by JT7196 » Sat Jan 27, 2018 5:57 pm

You should take up writing novels John😂😂 Can’t wait for the next chapter !

Cheers A’l 😀

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