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Transportation Technology

NYC Wants Ideas For "Taxi Technology 2.0" 302

Posted by samzenpus
from the crazy-backdash dept.
An anonymous reader writes "New York City is soliciting ideas from the public about possible technology improvements for its 13,000+ fleet of taxis. TLC (the city agency in charge of cabs) is 'seek[ing] input and information on ways to enhance the technology systems in each taxicab for the benefit of passengers, drivers and owners alike.'"
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NYC Wants Ideas For "Taxi Technology 2.0"

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  • Frebreze? (Score:5, Funny)

    by AlexBirch (1137019) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:36PM (#27592085) Homepage
    Seriously, I started smoking to get the cab smell off of me.
    • Re:Frebreze? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Loki_1929 (550940) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:40PM (#27592119) Journal

      I'm also in favor of enhancing the smell of NYC cabs. Either invest in something which removes all odors from all environments or possibly introduce hygiene requirements for licensed cab drivers.

    • by creimer (824291)
      The mafia should go back to dumping bodies into the river instead of leaving them in a taxi trunk.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:59PM (#27592323)

      They need to make those little chrome urinals bigger. One isn't big enough. I usually start with the one on the door, then move to the one in the middle of the back of the front seat, then finally on to the one on the remaining door. Usually making a mess all over the back.

      Would be nice if there was a better way of opening them up too. That chrome flip top lid must get nasty. They were smart enough to make the flushing automatic (very quiet by the way) but you have to manually lift the lid. Doesn't make sense. It takes some force and snaps closed quickly, so watch out.

      Any cab I've been in, the little dime sized urinal cake holder is always empty too.

  • An optional opiate IV drip, to calm me down during the trip being driven by all those guys who play too much Crazy Taxi.

  • Ozone Generator (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Maniacal (12626) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:41PM (#27592135)
    http://www.interstaterentals.net/id84.html [interstaterentals.net]

    Nothing worse than a smelly cab driver on a hot summers day. Eliminate odors electronically and help repair that pesky hole in the ozone while you're at it :)
    • Re:Ozone Generator (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:44PM (#27592167)

      negative, ghost rider

      Even very low concentrations of ozone can be harmful to the upper respiratory tract and the lungs. The severity of injury depends on both by the concentration of ozone and the duration of exposure. Severe and permanent lung injury or death could result from even a very short-term exposure to relatively low concentrations.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Maniacal (12626)
        Damn you and your science. I was trying to make fun of cabbies and you have to go and ruin it with all your "facts". One thing your "facts" didn't consider, maybe it's already happening. This sounds like a "factual" statement:

        Even very low concentrations of cabbie BO can be harmful to the upper respiratory tract and the lungs. The severity of injury depends on both by the concentration of cabbie BO and the duration of exposure. Severe and permanent lung injury or death could result from even a very sh
      • This way, not only will you not be burning hydrocarbons ( "burn, carbohydrates, not hydrocarbons" ) you'll have the "lovely" smell of NY to breathe ... and when you take a ride to New Jersey ...

        For extra revenue, hook up with a fat farm or fitness club and CHARGE people to pull the rickshaws ...

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by BluBrick (1924)
          Wait, wait, wait! You want to make NY cabbies sweat more?
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by tomhudson (43916)

            Ah, grasshopper, with a rickshaw, you won't have to worry about rolling down the windows ... and this way, everyone else can "share the fragrance."

            Okay, instead of a rickshaw, how about an electric-assist pedal-cab? Still open, so the smell doesn't concentrate, and the operator won't sweat quite as much.

    • by N1ck0 (803359)

      Eliminate odors electronically and help repair that pesky hole in the ozone while you're at it

      And trigger problems for anyone who has Asthma, COPD, or other respiratory aliments. Ozone is actually a pretty nasty irritant http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/ozonegen.html [epa.gov]. Its one of the reasons Sharper Image had several class action lawsuits about the ionic breeze, and one of the things they tried to repress Consumer Reports from releasing data on.

      Knowing cabs it would either be broken or increase the ozone above 0

  • by Roadkills-R-Us (122219) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:42PM (#27592145) Homepage

    Install translators so drivers and passengers can communicate.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd (1658)

      If the TARDIS couldn't translate the language of the Beast on the Impossible Planet, what makes you think any human-designed translator could manage the feat?

    • by Legrow (1023457) * on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:22PM (#27592537) Homepage

      Or how about a GPS system mounted in the back, where you could input the address you wanted to go to?

      It would have the added benefit of showing you the trip you were taking and your expected arrival time; it'd also give visitors a way to make sure that the cab driver isn't taking a longer way for a higher fare.

      • Or how about a GPS system mounted in the back, where you could input the address you wanted to go to?

        It would have the added benefit of showing you the trip you were taking and your expected arrival time; it'd also give visitors a way to make sure that the cab driver isn't taking a longer way for a higher fare.

        Because nobody except NYC locals (who would already know if its a ripoff route) would be able to actually use the device quickly enough to make sense. Do you have any clue how much in profits would be lost every year if this added even 10 seconds worth of wasted time per user?

      • by Bob Wehadababyitsabo (629809) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @08:17PM (#27592921)
        This is actually already done and present in all New York City cabs. http://www.google.com/search?q=nyc+taxi+gps [google.com]
      • by Repton (60818) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @08:36PM (#27593041) Homepage

        I heard a FOAF story about a taxi driver who installed a GPS in his taxi. He'd always say to new fares: "You can have the GPS route, or you can have the route I think is best. Which do you want?"

        Many, perhaps most, people would pick the GPS ... and promptly get stuck in traffic, because it doesn't know when to avoid main roads, all the shortcuts available, etc. It paid itself off in a few weeks..

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by rvw (755107)

          Many, perhaps most, people would pick the GPS ... and promptly get stuck in traffic, because it doesn't know when to avoid main roads, all the shortcuts available, etc. It paid itself off in a few weeks..

          TomTom and Vodafone have a service that monitors traffic. The GPS device takes another route based on that information. I don't know how it would work out if everybody would use it.

      • by ilovegeorgebush (923173) * on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @08:37PM (#27593049) Homepage
        All official NYC cabs have a TV screen in the back that have a map of your route. I got back from there on Tuesday.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Ditch the driver [wikipedia.org]
  • Electric Cabs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:44PM (#27592171) Homepage Journal

    Make all new taxis run on 100% electric. NYC's electric power comes 40% from nuclear (Indian Point), the rest from high-efficiency (up to 85% in CCGT) natural gas plants. The resulting switch would cut a lot of the smog remaining in our fairly green city.

    Oh yeah, make the cars amphibious so they can go around the bridges/tunnels bottlenecks that clog so much NYC traffic.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Hey, reality called -- electric cars take time to charge (on the order of a few hours) and they only have a range of a hundred miles or so. For vehicles like taxis with such a heavy duty cycle, you have two options: Add more cars to the fleet to compensate for the lengthy charge times, or use something that can be refuelled quickly and has range similar to gas. Natural gas-powered is the only potentially viable alternative, and at that, the fuel density is still below that of gasoline. Don't just shout "Go

      • Re:Electric Cabs (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:59PM (#27592327) Homepage

        Actually for something as common as a NYC taxi, a battery swap setup could work VERY well. Drive into a little garage, they slide out your old battery pack and slide in a new one. Total time? A few minutes, roughly comparable to gad.

        The problem with a battery swap is that it's extremely expensive and inconvenient to setup for a only handful of cars. That will be the problem in using it for consumers. But for a fleet the size of the NYC taxis, even if only 10-20% of the taxis used it the cost per taxi wouldn't be too much.

        There is a lot to be said for totally electric, but you could go with an underpowered little gas or diesel motor like the Volt to help with "corner cases".

        • Re:Electric Cabs (Score:5, Interesting)

          by CodeBuster (516420) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:45PM (#27592675)
          Even if they could get 20% participation from the NY cabbies the gas cabs would still have an advantage because they would not have to return to base to refuel which means more time on the prowl for additional fares while the competition is driving back and forth to base several times per day to get the battery pack changed. The gas powered cab can stop at the nearest gas station, fill up the tank, and be right back out there. The cab driver is a practical creature and will only switch to "green alternatives" if the law forces everyone, including the competition to do it, or it offers a competitive advantage over gas.
          • Re:Electric Cabs (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @09:49PM (#27593465) Homepage Journal

            The cabs all return to their garages every 12 hours. There are only under a dozen gas stations in Manhattan, amidst 2+ million people and hundreds of thousands of cars, so they refuel at garages.

            Gasoline cabs get a lot less than their rated city mileage in NYC, because they constantly accelerate and decelereate. Which probably puts them down around 15MPG tops, but which makes regenerative braking electric cars really shine. A 15 gallon tank gives them 225 miles on a tank. That's less than the 300mi an electric car gets.

            Cab drivers usually don't own their cars (which typically cost about $50K apiece after they're fitted to legal requirements). But they do pay for gas. So they'll be very happy to get cheaper mileage with less refueling stops.

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by CodeBuster (516420)
              I will concede that this probably true for Manhattan, which being a ~23 square mile area with at least 1.5 million residents, is a special case. However, in Los Angeles, for example, where everything is much more spread out and gas stations are everywhere the advantages of the gas cab come more into play. Why not a hybrid you ask? Well, there are specialized cab companies which field the Toyota Prius for cab duty out here in California, but they cost more to hire, don't carry as much luggage, and generally
        • by LordKaT (619540)

          gad?

          Galvanized Aluminum Diodes?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by moosesocks (264553)

          Adding a small wrinkle to the problem is that NYC's electric grid is extremely taxed.

          Although you'd be able to do clever things such as charging the batteries during off-peak hours, electrifying the taxi fleet would contribute even further to brownouts during the summer months.

          Granted, these problems can all be fixed. However, it's a bit more involved than you might imagine.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Doc Ruby (173196)

            In fact recharging the batteries at night, when electricity is only 50% the cost as during the day, is a big plus for this app, and practically all garages would do it.

            NYC's grid is taxed only in a few areas, and then only when super humid days make air conditioners crank hard in super hot days. That peak is so huge that the rest of the days, anywhere from 350-365 a year, have a lot of excess capacity without the peak air conditioner demand.

            And possibly the best way to recharge electric car batteries is wit

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by LackThereof (916566)

          Even though most NYC taxis are in use 24 hrs/day, the drivers are not. Taxis already have to return to base at least 3 times a day to switch drivers. Just switch batteries when you switch drivers.

          The catch would be getting a car company to invest in building these things, when they're going only going to sell a few thousand a year. Sure there's 13,000 cabs in New York, but they're only replaced at 3 year intervals. Most other metro areas allow much older cabs, and don't have nearly as many.

          This is why C

        • by SirKron (112214)

          How about a replaceable back seat area as well. Swap the batteries and back seat. Once gets charged the other cleaned.

      • Yeah, you're right, making a quick stop to swap the battery packs would be out of the question... There are already car makers talking about doing this. There's no reason you couldn't do it in a controlled environment like downtown NYC.
      • Create recharging stations at the various taxi stands. Cabs aren't always driving around. A lot of times they're lining up in front of airports, penn station, etc. Instead of driving around looking for a fare, they can wait and top off every once in a while and on breaks.

        Another option is to buy 2-3x as many batteries as electric cars. The batteries are constantly charged and when a cab needs to be recharged, swap out the batteries. The logistics need to be worked out, but it should be doable. Batteries nee

      • Re:Electric Cabs (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:10PM (#27592431) Homepage

        Big city Taxis are perfect for compressed air technology:

        http://www.google.com/search?q=compressed+air+cars [google.com]

        • by LordKaT (619540)

          Yes, let's increase the noise level in NYC 10-fold. It's not like I'm already going deaf from the constant construction, sirens, and idiots yelling about the new world order.

          • by mariushm (1022195)

            You can see how it works here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxcJ0fOrT0I [youtube.com]

            Keep in mind it's just an aluminum or fiber glass box on wheels, it doesn't have any noise dampeners, exhaust pipes, stuff that regular cars have so the noise level is quite high. It will probably purr like a regular diesel car when it's all done.

            Even as it is right now, the noise is not that big. Listen to a Honda motorbike revving or an Audi/Ferrari sports car accelerating and you'll find this noise quite Ok.

            These air cars are much m

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            Did you ever hear a gasoline car with no muffler?

        • How do these work? The article wasn't completely clear. Where does it get it's supply of compressed air? The article mentions a motor to do the compress for higher speeds, which makes it sound like for lower speeds it would run off of air you fill it up with at the station. Is that correct? If so, that sounds pretty cool.

          Otherwise, if all the compression were done in the car, I can't see how it would be even as efficient as a regular gas powered car (you know, thermodynamics and all that).

          • by mariushm (1022195)

            There are two or three relatively long tubes of compressed air along the whole length of the car, under horizontal bars.
            The pressure of the air getting out generates electricity which turns the wheels.
            The tanks can be filled from a station in a couple of minutes and it costs about 1 dollar to fill the tanks.
            If equiped with a small air compressor the car can refill its tanks while running on the street.

             

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Dallas Caley (1262692) *

        As a former cab driver i can attest to that fact, electric simply will not work, and neither will natural gas. When i used to drive i would put in an average of 400-450 miles in a 24 hour shift. now with gas that means i had to fill up 2-3 times a day because you never want to be below half a tank (in case you get a long fare) When i switched to natural gas i had to fill up 5-6 times a day which was extremely annoying because in my area (orange county, CA) there are only about 6 natural gas pumps

        I don't k

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Fred_A (10934)

        Hey, reality called -- electric cars take time to charge (on the order of a few hours) and they only have a range of a hundred miles or so.

        Nah, every other day we get an article right here about this new battery design that charges in minutes and yet we never see them on the market.
        Obviously there is a secret plot by highly organized taxi drivers who don't want to invest in new cars and who suppress new technology (if you work in energy research, remember never to take a cab).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mariushm (1022195)

      I don't think electric would be a good idea, although it would be better than gas.

      The taxis would need recharging quite often and batteries would soon lose their performance and would need to be replaced. That's a lot of lithium and other heavy metals which can be recycled but they do cost a lot.

      A better alternative would be air powered cars, especially as current gas stations could be fitted easily with pressurized air pumps, filling the car's tanks in about 5-10 minutes, at the same time they are filled w

    • by jd (1658)

      How about requiring electric and/or hybrid cars (particularly if cabs) be fitted with regenerative braking systems rather than traditional friction-based brakes?

      Another way to reduce smog would be to reduce the distance cabs travel. An optimizer that fed the dispatchers with the best way to place unused cabs to minimize probable call times and got closest (rather than random) cabs to calls would help.

    • So, overall efficiency when using fossil fuels would be: (ideally) 85% * Efficiency of transmission * Efficiency of battery recharge * Efficiency of battery storage * Efficiency of electric motor (taking into account regenerative braking). How efficient is charging a battery these days? It sucks for small consumer devices, that much seems clear.

      For comparison: Efficiency of a Diesel engine: 35% - 50%

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rm999 (775449)

      "Make all new taxis run on 100% electric"

      That's what I call a "politician's idea": it sounds good on paper, but would be a failure. Here are the problems:
      * Electrical cars cost a lot. Someone will pay for them, potentially the cab drivers themselves because NYC fixes cab prices.
      * Batteries have a limited number of charge cycles, and after a few 100 charges the capacity will be noticeably less. In hybrids this is OK because the gas engine will just work a bit more, but in cabs this will require more frequent

      • Re:Electric Cabs (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @10:20PM (#27593655) Homepage Journal

        No, a "politician's idea" is the kind like yours that don't even take into account the other comments posted before it which debunk it.

        NYC cabs are bought by the fleet, not the driver. The cabs typically cost about $50K or more when up to legal requirements. A new Prius costs abour $30K. The driver does pay for fuel, so the cheaper electric would save the drivers money, and make the overall business better.

        Electric car batteries don't suffer from batteries wearing out so fast. But all cars wear out. Gasoline cars require a lot more servicing to their violently active parts.

        Batteries can be swapped in and out at the garage instead of refueling with gas when they return as NYC cabs currently do (nearly no gas stations in Manhattan).

        NYC cabs almost never use their trunks. But there's no reason the electric cars can't have good trunks. Current models of the size we'd use for cabs don't suffer from that limitation.

        You evidently are talking about a different NYC and different battery car tech than actually exists, while being smug and conceited about it. You should run for office.

    • City traffic with lots of stop and go. The perfect environment for the a hybrid.
      Maybe electric would work even better, but if you want something that is available soon hybrids are already in the market.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by CityZen (464761)

      If, instead of a horn button, they had to crank a generator to honk, it would certainly extend the range considerably, or perhaps make the city a quieter place to live, either of which is an improvement.

    • by okmijnuhb (575581)
      If you haven't noticed, the most obnoxious air pollutants are not from taxi cars, or even SUV's but from large diesel trucks, and buses.
  • I prefer the good ol' pine smell.
  • New York isn't looking for ideas for new taxis.
    They're looking for ideas for new taxes.

    Suggestions will be never actually be implemented well, fully, or in more than a few cabs, but they'll tax the fuck out of you for them!

  • Just ask Brad. He posted one of the best and most convincing arguements on driverless cars I've ever seen [templetons.com], and in so doing also facilitated one of the most interesting /. conversations [slashdot.org] I've read.

    I think NYC taxicabs would be a marvelous test case for driverless technology - it would solve a lot of issues.
    • by jonwil (467024) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:03PM (#27592355)

      Never happen. The moment the taxi authority even starts to think about driverless cabs, you will get EVERY taxi driver in NYC walking off the job (causing chaos) or worse, using their cabs to block up the streets or blockading the authorities office or both.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        SO have a bunch of cars ready to go when they walk off?

        And get stuck paying huge traffic fine; which new your could use to pay for the new cabs.
        Yeah it would be hard, but fuck em', progress marches on.

        Or make it so cab companies can't own them, they acn only lease them and drivers can become robotic car leasors and make ther money that way.

        This actually ties to something I ahve thought about a lot. The coming robot revolution. I don't mean overthrow, I mean economic revolution. As soon as we get a robot tha

    • by netruner (588721) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:41PM (#27592641)
      Ok, if nobody else is going to...

      "You're in a Johnny Cab - Would you please restate the destination?"
  • 2.0 eh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Bazman (4849) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:51PM (#27592239) Journal

    Then I reckon they need Ajax [wikipedia.org] and rounded corners. Cleaner cabs with fewer sharp edges on them. Plus they'd have to be called "yellowcbs".

  • by jfengel (409917) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:52PM (#27592241) Homepage Journal

    If you read the RFI, it makes clear that they're not talking about the motive power of the taxicab. They're looking to upgrade the "in-taxi experience".

    For comparison, they cite the ability to pay with credit cards and the "Passenger Information Monitor (PIM) with payment screen, live map, and various content", which they put in all taxis after the last round.

    They're also hoping to improve things for drivers and the fleet, like better ways to get available drivers to where there are passengers to be picked up.

    I think they want an idea like this: use your phone (and its built-in GPS) to summon a cab, without the tedious standing-in-the-street phase. Cabs go to where people need rides, rather than guessing.

    • by AuMatar (183847)

      I use my phone to get a taxi all the time- I simply call the dispatch number. You hardly need new technology for that. I'd think auto grabbing the GPS would lead to more confusion than good- such a small percentage of phones have GPS, you'd end up with a lot of people who try to use your service and get pissed when it doesn't work.

      • Today, few cell phones have GPS, but many can roughly localize using cell phone towers. Users easily could select an exact destination using a map displayed on the screen -- if that's even necessary in NYC. And I'm sure the number of GPS phones will vastly increase in the coming years. But I guess calling the dispatch line works, too.

    • "Passenger Information Monitor (PIM) with payment screen, live map, and various content"

      In other words, Advertisements.

  • Install (rework?) tracking devices and software that remembers all of the routes the taxi takes to transport passengers, then have software constantly analyze that data and predict where cabs should be and when.

    I live in Florida, so if this already exists, well, you know.
  • What, you want more?
  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:58PM (#27592317) Homepage Journal

    Add a Multi-touch Screen in the back with Google Maps or something similar, and support multiple languages. Provide status updates of where you are, what route is being taken, and how long it will take to get to your destination. The system can also provide tourist information and, yes, advertising. There should be no need to speak with the driver. This will ease the transition to driverless taxis, once that technology becomes available.

    Introduce a "taxi-card" smartcard payment system.. but also accept cash and credit cards. They can do this at the supermarket, I don't see why they can't do it in the back of a taxi.

    Provide an online booking system for taxis and, ya know, actually show up when you say you will.

  • by dave562 (969951) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @06:59PM (#27592325) Journal
    I want to be able to pay extra to QoS tag my taxi cab so that it gets priority over the other traffic.
    • They've done this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by weston (16146) <westonsd&canncentral,org> on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @08:29PM (#27592993) Homepage

      There *are* vehicles that get priority over other traffic. In fact, they chain groups of cars getting this priority together for maximum efficiency, and they put in lots of seats so many people can ride in each car.

      Unfortunately, the way they solved the prioritization issue means that they only run on fixed routes throughout the city. However, there's a lot of these routes, and so most locations have one within ready walking distance. Scheduled pickup and dropoff times are usually pretty frequent. You should check it out.

    • Ah, what you're looking for is an ambulance. Let me call a "cab" for you. *Whack*
  • Crazy Taxi (Score:4, Funny)

    by V50 (248015) * on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:05PM (#27592375) Journal

    If there's one thing I learned from all my years of playing Crazy Taxi on the Dreamcast, it's that customers will tip more if you nearly get them killed.

    I say, let all the taxi drivers play Crazy Taxi for a week, then get back to driving cabs with their new skills. It's bound to get results.

    • Depends on the customer.

      Personally, I love a good wild taxi ride--the chance to see some of the things done that I would never do if it were my license and my car on the line. So I'll usually add a bit to the tip if I enjoyed the ride.

      Conversely, my roomate gets scared to death in taxis. She's a control-freak who goes nuts when someone drives in some way that she wouldn't drive. She'll tip poorly if you frighten her.

  • Let them contact Google for interesting ideas [101bestandroidapps.com] about taxis and its Android OS. It's open source after all so we can ditch it if things do not go well. This would be way cheaper. Right?

  • by Chairboy (88841) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:06PM (#27592381) Homepage

    Technically, the cabs are already great at what they do. They quickly and reasonably cheaply (considering) get you from point A to B. But the biggest problems I've had with cabs have had less to do with tech than human factors.

    For example: Advertisements. Someone thought it would be a good idea to fill cabs with loudspeakers and screens that subject the passenger to one-way advertisements. I'm annoyed by this because A: It's unpleasant to be so aggressively marketed to and B: I didn't think of it first. If there was a way to equip cabs w/ a basic data terminal that used GPS to bring up relevant data regarding where I was (or services near my destination), that would be brilliant.

    Also, the credit-card issue is slowly being addressed. It's gotten much better, but everyone still runs into some cabbie who makes a big show about pulling a manual card-swipe out of the trunk. Give me a debit-style terminal in the back seat like a freakin' grocery store.

    Instead of political issues like electric cabs, let's see an improvement on the end-user experience. The rest will happen on their own as business owners start seeing a financial advantage.

  • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:07PM (#27592401)

    Automate them with artificial intelligence and give them defocused temporal perception so that they're always ready to pick you up even before you know you wanted one.

    Make the interior stainless steel and have it go through an internal wash and rinse cycle at the conclusion of every trip as there will always be people excreting various unwanted solids, fluids, and gases inside.

    Share and Enjoy.

  • I'd say that would be using horses instead of humans to pull the rickshaw... 3.0 would be using bicycles (a step backward), 4.0 is using automotives...
    radio contacts, radios and taximeters are somewhere between 5.0 and 6.0 - route guidance system are 7.0

    so the better question would be, what technologies should be in version 8.0

    I can't resist saying: improved javascript performance and more w3c compliance, but actually I think it will be some sort of entertainment device - games, internet access, tv,.
    • by 6Yankee (597075)

      radio contacts, radios and taximeters are somewhere between 5.0 and 6.0

      Radio stuff, sure - but taximeters have been around since Roman times. When I was a kid I had an encyclopedia with a diagram of one, showing wooden cogs (actually wheels with wooden pegs on the face) gearing the axle rotation down and driving something that released a pebble every x revolutions of the cart wheel. The fare was (obviously) based on the number of pebbles spat out during the journey.

      See, for example, the fourth post here:
      htt [pravda.ru]

  • by bigtrike (904535) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:32PM (#27592601)

    How about a method for electronically hailing a cab?

    Part of the inefficiency taxis is that they drive around looking for fares, while interested riders may be waiting nearby but out of visual range.

    Some method of being able to hail a cab from a cel phone with built in GPS would improve the ability of cabs and customers to find each other. The technology should be fairly easy to set up, simply requiring smartphones on both the passenger and driver end and at least a couple of servers to manage the information. Costs could be paid for with advertisements or very small fees from participants.

    The biggest barrier to such a system is critical mass, which would be easy to obtain if the city simply picked an official provider of such a system.

    • There are already many services that schedule pickups via phone, web, and probably smart phone too (isn't there an iPhone app for that?). The driver doesn't need a smart phone, he just needs a way to receive updates and pickup assignments from base regardless of how the requests arrived at the dispatch server (i.e. the cab computer/meter w/wireless in his cab). This is probably already happening/already been done many times in many different cities by many different cab companies. Also, consider this: what
      • by bigtrike (904535)

        If you've got a phone with GPS, they know where you are and that you're still waiting for them. Calling for a pickup is problematic as you can only call a single cab company at a time and that particular cab company may not have a cab near you. The same issues exist with the iphone app, as it can at best only interface with a single cab company's dispatch. This works fine for smaller cities which only have a couple taxi companies, but is very difficult with larger cities.

        It's beneficial for the cab drive

    • I'd think it would be easier to do with a vending machine or ATM concept. Set the machines every other block or so, and accept cash and debit. You pay, and the nearest available cab comes to that spot. Paying the hail/flag-down fee first would help eliminate the assholes and pranksters that would stand there and spam the button and run off as the cabbie gets there just to waste the driver's time...

      Of course, the driver can still pick up people the normal way also, no reason not to...
    • by RyoShin (610051)

      I have no knowledge about taxi systems outside of what's related through movies and television (and from that I take it that taxis should be used as tanks).

      But why aren't there booths set up for people who need a taxi, like bus stops? Only the people in the taxi booths don't wait for an exact schedule with a specific route. People could still do "free grabs", but this would give people a place to go where they'd be easier to notice and taxi drivers a place to look on every pass.

    • In NYC, there are two classes of taxi's, Medallion taxis and Livery taxis [wikipedia.org]. Medallion cabs are only allowed to pick up fares who flag them down (and are required to be painted yellow), and Livery cabs are only allowed to pick up customers who have called a dispatch service (and are not allowed to be painted yellow).

      A system like you suggest would only be possible for the livery cabs, as it would be illegal to summon a medallion cab remotely.

  • by DougWebb (178910) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:37PM (#27592619) Homepage

    They all seem to disappear when it rains, which I assume is because they can't get wet. So, they need to be waterproofed, or at least be given big umbrellas.

    Umbrellas might work, actually. The umbrella vendors pop up out of nowhere when it rains, like hibernating frogs in the desert. Maybe they could be put to good use covering up the taxis.

  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland@ya ... m minus math_god> on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:44PM (#27592659) Homepage Journal

    Stop taking cash.
    Pay them more and remove tipping
    In Cab Wi-Fi
    Clean cabs that don't stink
    Online in Cab ratings of the Cab, company and driver.

    Free umbrellas. Big ugly orange things that get picked up and returned to the cab.

    No Radio

  • $$$$ 13,000 Cash Cabs $$$$

    Cash Cab [wikipedia.org]

  • by copponex (13876) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @07:54PM (#27592739) Homepage

    First, make many of them electric. Two hundred mile range vehicles are possible today, and according to this [dailygotham.com], there are 800 million miles driven each year by 13,000 taxis, which is 170 miles, according to my calculator and my brain. Beware: my brain is currently on pain meds from dental work. Charge all the unused electrical capacity of the grid at night to local Taxi stations, install some flywheel charging systems or a simple battery swapping system, and it will help us develop the next generation of electric vehicle infrastructure.

    Next, equip all taxis with good GPS. Put a screen in the back so the passenger knows they're not being taken the long way or the wrong way. Use this data to calculate traffic and anticipate passenger needs based on events, weather, holidays, etc. Allow cabbies to see each other on the GPS, so they know if they are crowding certain areas unwittingly. Allow people to log into a website to see real time anonymized traffic flow information.

    Give out decent prize money for Smartphone apps that become public domain. Allow a person to stand at a street corner and hail a cab by pressing a button, or request a timed pickup with a non-refundable deposit charged to their credit card.

    And finally, make all cabs bike friendly, with a quick and secure way to attach two bikes to each one. This will allow those in a hurry to bike to work, catch a cab to a movie, and then bike home.

  • London Cabs (Score:4, Interesting)

    by pommiekiwifruit (570416) on Wednesday April 15, 2009 @08:09PM (#27592859)
    When I visited New York and Los Angeles I noticed they have some sort of reverse TARDIS technology going on with their cabs - huge on the outside, with the turning radius of an oil tanker, but tiny on the inside, with my knees scraping against the seat (and I am a short guy). Why not make the car smaller on the outside and bigger on the inside, like London cabs? You can even buy some of the older models (e.g. the TXII) in the USA now...
  • So this is why they're raising taxes on everything here in NY? I dont need a fucking luxory yellow cab. I just need it to take me from point a to b.

    What we do need though is better health care costs, jobs and education. I dont give a fuck about the trinkets in the fucking taxi. I have a fucking iphone.

    If anything, just stop the cabbies from pissing in water bottles.

  • Diesel cars with 300ftlb torque, manual transmission, excellent tires (Goodyear Assurance TripleTred OR some damn good summer tires for dry/rain plus non-studded snow tires for winter), all-wheel drive, and advanced driving course for every cab driver: http://www.aaamidatlantic.com/DrivingPrograms/AdvancedDrivingVideo [aaamidatlantic.com]
  • Get rid of the Medallions. For those not in the know, the number of taxis in New York City are limited, for the express purpose of keeping supply down and prices up. This is controlled through medallions, which are exorbitantly expensive. The city government is limiting competition.

    The solution is to get rid of the taxi cartel by getting rid of the medallions. Provide a license to anyone who can pass a basic driving and navigation test, regardless of whether it's a tiny jitney or a stretch limo. Then let th

  • Fleets have more options. I'd say a custom electric design with removable battery packs. Let the taxi depot keep a supply and chargers on-hand so that the range issue becomes moot. Make the batteries modular enough that they can either be removed and replaced as a whole unit or several stacked units. Make the battery packs super accessible as well.

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