10 Things You Didn’t Know About Riding in a Self-Driving Taxi3 min readReading Time: 3 minutes
Self-driving taxis are already operating in numerous cities around the world, fascinating users. Autonomous vehicles are relatively new in the market, and there is some apprehension surrounding them. If you are going to take an autonomous taxi ride soon, here are 10 things about a self-driving taxi you can expect.
- Fairly Priced Taxis: For every mile, a self-driving taxi costs roughly $2.10 to $2.70. While that is higher than the cost per mile of a regular cab, locals believe it to be fair for a taxi operating entirely on an autonomous driving system.
- Children’s Seats: For most parents, riding in taxis is very inconvenient with a toddler. You have to be on guard all the time to prevent discomfort to your baby. Self-driving taxis come equipped with car seats, with the passengers sitting in only the middle and the back rows of the three-row seating plan. This makes traveling with a toddler hassle-free.
- It’s Not Unusual: Often, people expect their rides in self-driving cars to be drastically different from those in regular ones. The taxis have usual car interiors with a few additional perks like USB ports and charging sockets. The seating and other interior décor is usually made of leather and is very similar to ordinary cars. These features ensure that the rider does not feel awkward and make the self-driving taxi experience very similar to the usual taxi rides.
- Bulky Self-Driving Taxi: Most autonomous vehicles come equipped with 360-degree cameras, radar, and LiDAR systems. These are usually affixed on the car’s exterior, making self-driving taxis look bulky. This bulkiness makes autonomous taxis easily distinguishable from regular vehicles, alerting surrounding drivers and pedestrians.
- Zero Interaction with the Safety driver: Since autonomous vehicles are still in development and testing stages, they are not fully automatic. Self-driving taxis come with trained safety drivers who can take control of the car in case of a dilemma or accident. Unlike regular taxi drivers, safety drivers never talk to passengers while driving. This protocol might sound appealing to some of you and awkward to others, but it ensures absolute driver focus, thereby increasing rider safety.
- Email Notifications for Self-Driving Taxi: If your autonomous taxi does not contain a safety driver, the cab company will notify you of the driver’s absence while you book it. This should not alarm you since these taxis are designed to operate without human assistance, but it is always convenient to know what to expect. In case of an emergency, you can use the call button inside the car to contact a company representative.
Also read: The Science Behind Self-Driving Cars
- Self-Driving Taxi is Intelligent: Since autonomous vehicles are equipped to study road conditions and pedestrian behavior, they are as smart as a human driver. These taxis slow down before speed bumps, speed up on empty roads, and reverses on crossing an intersection too quickly to let pedestrians pass.
- Book Using an App: Booking a self-driving taxi is as uneventful as riding in it. Most of them come with specialized apps similar to Uber’s and provide the expected time of arrival, estimated costs, and demonstrate the live position of the taxi. These apps also allow passengers to give feedback and rate their rides.
- There Are Faults: Autonomous cars are by no means perfect. As a rider, you might notice your taxi stalling for long minutes because it is confused by predicted vs. actual human movement, yellow lights, or left-hand turns. The safety drivers can control the taxi in such situations, but companies are looking to address these flaws with advanced and intelligent navigation systems.
- Safe and Well-Maintained: Autonomous vehicles maintain the highest safety standards, with regular airbags, crash safety features, and highly efficient tracking systems. You can complete most rides with little to no interruption from the safety driver. Since the cars are just new, their interiors are impeccable, and the safety features are monitored continuously.
While it is reasonable to be nervous while riding a self-driving taxi for the first time, being familiar with some features and cost estimates will ease the ride for you. Do not hesitate to ride in one if you can.