The blogger at Up In The Valley in Los Angeles drives for Uber and says driverless Uber cars will create chaos because they won’t – and can never – know the unspoken rules. For example, West Hollywood clubs have two and only two precisely parking spots, one for taxis, one for valets. There’s no way a driverless car can handle picking up clubbers without clogging streets.
Enter the Headless Uber. That sleek grey Volvo with the radar/camera array on the roof is going to proceed exactly to the address entered on the app. A third of the time, the pin drop is on the wrong side of the street, or in the service alley. No matter, Headless Uber is going to the pin and it’s going to stop and wait right there…and wait, in the only available place, the street itself. The only alternative is to circle the block until the single space loading zone in front of Pump opens up. For how long, 10 minutes? Twenty?
Also, let’s say Headless Uber it pulls into the valet spot, waits for its human, who decided to take Lyft and forget to cancel the ride. What then? Or maybe the human did cancel the ride. Will Headless Uber just stay in the valet spot until it it told to go elsewhere?
It won’t respond to honking, valet parkers waving LED flashlights, outcries of irritation or obscene gestures. With that simple act of traffic obedience, lane one of Santa Monica Blvd. will disappear, from Doheny to La Cienega, so Uber Technologies, Inc. may defend itself from civic injunctions for being a serial traffic scofflaw. Lane two is going to have carry the rest of the thru traffic, the cabs, the limousines, and the old school Ubers manned by second-jobbing drivers doing night work. The Social Contract in Los Angeles will be put to the test.
Plus, driverless in cities are nowhere near being ready.
At a holiday dinner, I asked a teacher of robotics if she would be willing to beta-test a headless Uber without a steering wheel-grabbing back-up driver at the ready.
Her answer was unhesitant: No.
“I know from experience all the things which can go wrong.”