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NYC Wants Ideas For "Taxi Technology 2.0"

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the crazy-backdash dept.

Transportation 302

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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Frebreze? (5, Funny)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592085)

Seriously, I started smoking to get the cab smell off of me.

Re:Frebreze? (4, Insightful)

Loki_1929 (550940) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592119)

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.

Re:Frebreze? (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592301)

The mafia should go back to dumping bodies into the river instead of leaving them in a taxi trunk.

Re:Frebreze? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

i just got off the toilet (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592093)

i shit out an obama.

plop!

How about... (1)

nebaz (453974) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592099)

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

my request (0)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592127)

The best technology upgrade those cabs could use is those little pine-shaped air fresheners.

Ozone Generator (5, Insightful)

Maniacal (12626) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#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:Ozone Generator (2, Funny)

Maniacal (12626) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592597)

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 short-term exposure to relatively low concentrations of cabbie BO.

See. Dispute that.

So make Taxi 2.0 a rickshaw (2, Funny)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592673)

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:So make Taxi 2.0 a rickshaw (2, Funny)

BluBrick (1924) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592919)

Wait, wait, wait! You want to make NY cabbies sweat more?

Re:So make Taxi 2.0 a rickshaw (2, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592969)

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.

Re:Ozone Generator (1)

N1ck0 (803359) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592395)

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 0.50 ppm.

jkhsad ass7e bcadjh (4, Funny)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592145)

Install translators so drivers and passengers can communicate.

Re:jkhsad ass7e bcadjh (2, Insightful)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592417)

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?

Re:jkhsad ass7e bcadjh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592517)

Or maybe they could spend some money on software to teach the drivers English.

Re:jkhsad ass7e bcadjh (5, Insightful)

Legrow (1023457) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592537)

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.

Re:jkhsad ass7e bcadjh (1)

ragethehotey (1304253) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592629)

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?

Re:jkhsad ass7e bcadjh (5, Interesting)

Repton (60818) | more than 5 years ago | (#27593041)

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..

How 'bout (1)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592161)

a translator, and maybe a shower?

Electric Cabs (5, Insightful)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592171)

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:Electric Cabs (3, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592265)

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 green!" because it's politically vogue. It also needs to be economically feasible.

Re:Electric Cabs (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592327)

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 (4, Interesting)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#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 (1)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592687)

gad?

Galvanized Aluminum Diodes?

Re:Electric Cabs (2, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 5 years ago | (#27593033)

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:Electric Cabs (1)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592343)

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.

Re:Electric Cabs (1)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592373)

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 need to be easy to swap.

Re:Electric Cabs (0, Flamebait)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592407)

As others have pointed out in response, these taxis are private fleet cars. They already mostly refuel at their garages, which buy gas at cheaper bulk prices (Manhattan has only under a dozen gas stations for 2M people and hundreds of thousands of cars). Those garages could swap in/out batteries left recharging at night when electric rates are low (about 50% daytime).

So tell "reality" it's no problem. And take a note: don't go lecturing New Yorkers on "reality". We make it and break it here, and you people who don't know NYC firsthand can only guess how we do it with all those yellow cars and electric trains.

Re:Electric Cabs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592423)

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 green!" because it's politically vogue. It also needs to be economically feasible.

No actually a service like a taxi fleet is PERFECT for electrical cars, they stay in a relatively small area, and are quite common, a simple battery swap operation when they run low would be easily workable, and from the companies point of view probably cheaper than gas after the setup costs.

Plus they probably qualify for tax breaks and other incentives for going with alternative power sources. For example when my cities cabs switched to propane the government foot the bill for the first $1000 in cost for each engine conversion

Re:Electric Cabs (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592431)

Big city Taxis are perfect for compressed air technology:

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

MOD PARENT UP (0, Redundant)

nsayer (86181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592577)

And me without my points.

Re:Electric Cabs (1)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592703)

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.

Re:Electric Cabs (1)

LordKronos (470910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592963)

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).

Re:Electric Cabs (0)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 5 years ago | (#27593005)

That technology is full of hot air. That article reeks of vapor ware and bull shit.

Re:Electric Cabs (2, Interesting)

Dallas Caley (1262692) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592755)

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 know about New York, but if its the same as my area, the single best thing that they could do to improve just about everything is charge a reasonable rate to lease a cab (to the driver) for a time period under 24 hours. Do you realize how F-ing crazy you go when you drive for 24 hours straight? and believe me if you do not drive for 24 hours straight then you will make less than minimum wage. It is absolutely rediculus. The taxi cab industry may not be run by a mafia, but it might as well be.

Side note (to the management of Yellow Cab of Orange county), BURN IN H*LL!! i will never EVER come back to your company, (as you insisted i would) i learned how to do something (IT/web) and now i make literally 5 times as much as i used to so screw off!

Re:Electric Cabs (2, Informative)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592299)

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 with regular fuel.

See this page [www.mdi.lu] or go directly to this design [www.mdi.lu] which looks quite OK for a taxi, having both air and petrol, with up to about 1000 miles of range (using both air or regular fuel).

The 13.000 euro price (about $17k) will most likely drop a lot if they get big orders - and who knows, maybe they'd be willing to create a start-up in US, with US employees.

Re:Electric Cabs (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592447)

Exactly what I was thinking ... compressed air tech is perfect for taxis.

Re:Electric Cabs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592379)

I'm all for the electric part but these cars are usually running 24 hours a day in 2 shifts, how are you going to find time to charge it and you COMPLETELY lost me with the amphibious.

Even in rush hour traffic getting across the river is MUCH faster than any boat with no traffic, could imagine a crappy crown vic trying to fight the current.

Re:Electric Cabs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592413)

everything you dream is an untrue. The government is enhancing you. Everyone wants to stop you. BUT RETALIATE. RETALIATE WITH ALL YOUR POWER. RIOT. RIOT NOW. Thats what kit says.

Re:Electric Cabs (1)

jd (1658) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592487)

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.

Re:Electric Cabs (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592789)

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:Electric Cabs (2, Interesting)

rm999 (775449) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592813)

"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 charges, and ultimately costly replacements (a new Tesla battery is estimated to be between 10-15,000 dollars). Battery replacements will have an environmental impact.
* A battery charge takes several hours (in the best case scenario: there is a charging station that can provide at least 75 watts throughput). If a cab driver exceeds the electrical range early (let's say 200 miles of hauling passengers), he's done for the day.
* Batteries take up a lot of trunk space because they have a significantly lower energy density than gasoline. Cabs that go to the airport won't be able to fit much luggage.

Glory Holes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592181)

Glory holes would be perfect for those long, late rides across town when the 'N' isn't running. I'm just sayin'....

Re:Glory Holes (1)

nate nice (672391) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592207)

Definitely a great idea.

Car air freshener? (1)

grumpyman (849537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592183)

I prefer the good ol' pine smell.

Nyit nyao! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592185)

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Nuh nit nehhhhhh

Car Breathalyzers (1)

reerun (1533413) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592215)

Judging on my experience with how Taxi drivers ignore all laws at will they must be drunk

Fools! (1)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592221)

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!

2.0? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592229)

Seriously "2.0"?

Have they got no idea at all how old the taxi concept is already? More like 202.34

Ask Brad Templeton, Chairman of EFF (1, Interesting)

religious freak (1005821) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592231)

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.

Re:Ask Brad Templeton, Chairman of EFF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592289)

it would solve a lot of issues

Including the driver smell.

Re:Ask Brad Templeton, Chairman of EFF (3, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:Ask Brad Templeton, Chairman of EFF (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592633)

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 that can flip burgers, and toss fries we will be at a technology level where most menial tasks will be automated. What do we do with the former workers? No, they won't become robot repair persons becasue A) Robots could do that work and B) it wouldn't be anywhere close a 1:1 relationship.

Millions of people will need a job.
Eventual they will get good enough to do all labor.

I can't believe it... (4, Funny)

netruner (588721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592641)

Ok, if nobody else is going to...

"You're in a Johnny Cab - Would you please restate the destination?"

2.0 eh? (4, Funny)

Bazman (4849) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592239)

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".

Re:2.0 eh? (1)

Thousand (1351647) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592649)

Yellowcbs is good, but that actually describes the service somewhat, which is a 2.0 no-no. Calling them RedSpring or BlueLamp would be better, or hell, just name it after a mountain in Scotland [adobe.com] that half your userbase will mispronounce. I suppose you could go with yel.lowca.bz if you have to, but that's so yes.terd.ae.

Just remember, whatever you call it, it has to be in Beta and stay there, or else it won't be credible. Finished software is too edgy to be mainstream.

It's got nothing to do with the engine (2, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592241)

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.

Re:It's got nothing to do with the engine (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592311)

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.

Re:It's got nothing to do with the engine (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592827)

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.

the Ultimate green transportation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592261)

Rickshaws

Route prediction (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592295)

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.

Re:Route prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592991)

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.
 

Centralize routing is a good idea.

All cabs to carry GPS and report route and end to end delay for each fare to central routing depo as part of finalizing payment transaction.

Build a delay table which estimates link congestion. Use delay information to recommend routes to cab drivers based on Dijkstra's algorithm.

Keep a history of link delays. Provide customer with a congestion based estimated arrival time.

As Joebert says you could also use cab density information and fare pickup points to redistribute idle cabs.

GET RID OF THE TV (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592297)

Okay, the TV's in the back with the map is fun for all of 1 day then it's just plain annoying.

Every time you get into a cab you have to shut it off or mute the volume I know it annoys the drivers.

Go hybrid and prevent the city (cops) and garages from gouging the drivers for every penny when ever they get a raise.

Map + translator (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592307)

What, you want more?

Touch Sceen and Pay System (2, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592317)

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.

Re:Touch Sceen and Pay System (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592697)

Introduce a "taxi-card" smartcard payment system..

It'll never happen, it would destroy tips.

Re:Touch Sceen and Pay System (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592763)

That'd be fucking nice.

Re:Touch Sceen and Pay System (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592929)

And there is no way to implement the tip system that is used in restaurants? Don't be silly. It merely requires you to actually acknowledge what you are paying before processing it - the advantages of a taxi-card over Visa/MC/AMEX/etc are that the processing is done in house and therefore cheaper or that you can use a limited balance debit card and not worry about someone hacking the reader so much.

QoS taxi cab tagging (4, Funny)

dave562 (969951) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592325)

I want to be able to pay extra to QoS tag my taxi cab so that it gets priority over the other traffic.

Re:QoS taxi cab tagging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592427)

we have a winner!

Re:QoS taxi cab tagging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592435)

Traitor! Taxi cab neutrality FTW!

They've done this (4, Insightful)

weston (16146) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592993)

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.

cdgeorge (1)

cdgeorge (775179) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592357)

How about free internet? That would make up for being caught in traffic.

Crazy Taxi (3, Funny)

V50 (248015) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592375)

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.

Contact Google (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592377)

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?

Suggestion: Customer experience (3, Insightful)

Chairboy (88841) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592381)

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.

I know! (1)

fretlessjazz (975926) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592387)

Cabs with friggin' laser beams, man.

how about wrangling for the sword of power? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592399)

take it out of the hands of fuckhead politicians like obama. obama doesn't care if you want something. he gives you what you think you deserve.

Happy Horizontal People Transporter (2, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Rickshaws (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592421)

Not the bicycle kind (already have those) the chinamen foot kind. Yeah!

to prevent lost items... (1)

notgm (1069012) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592439)

sensors that measure the delta in the weight of items in the passenger area before you get in and after you get out.

Use Google Latitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592463)

Use Google latitude to track the taxi and the passenger for safety. when request is made you can notify the Passenger where the taxi is in real time and when can he expect it, which gives a great customer service. If the passenger's family is using the same service, they estimate when he/she can be home. Communicate with other Taxi drivers if you want to swap the shift or notify them if you are stuck in bad traffic.

Link to Google lattitude
http://www.google.com/latitude/intro.html

Follow me on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/lakkineni

Taxi 2.0? (1)

AlgorithMan (937244) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592529)

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,... or maybe it could be as simple as giving the customer a free drink (that will raise the base price of course)

Re:Taxi 2.0? (1)

6Yankee (597075) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592967)

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:
http://engforum.pravda.ru/showthread.php?t=219450 [pravda.ru]

How about a method for electronically hailing cabs (5, Interesting)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 5 years ago | (#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.

Re:How about a method for electronically hailing c (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592749)

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 if you schedule a pickup and then you are a no show? There is no difference (in most consumer's minds) between one cab or another so if the cab driver blows off your pickup and takes a fare straight of the street (aka: cash in hand) he experiences no downside (unless the cab company punishes him for doing it and making them look bad). Why should he risk a pickup fare, which may not materialize, when he can get one immediately off the street without having to drive anywhere else to start the trip?

Re:How about a method for electronically hailing c (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592923)

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 drivers as may not need to spend nearly as long looking for a fare (sometimes hours) and beneficial for the rider as they may be able to get a cab which otherwise would have driven by them empty half a block away. There are no guarantees on either end, but providing a more efficient means of connecting cabs with fares should help reduce the amount of time cabs travel around empty.

Free Google Earth as a backend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592857)

I had the same idea. This could be achieved with a Google Earth data layer that shows the position of every cab and you just tap the nearest available one to you for pickup.

Re:How about a method for electronically hailing c (1)

Zantetsuken (935350) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592861)

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...

Make them waterproof. (5, Funny)

DougWebb (178910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592619)

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.

New York City (0)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592639)

Wow, NYC owns all of those cabs? Oh, no, they don't?

Well, fuck off then.

Srsly, why does some regulatory agency treat this property like it's their personal plaything? They should regulate for safety and against fraud. And that's about it.

Pay with your person device (4, Interesting)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592659)

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

Two Words: Johnny Cab (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27592681)

Nine out of ten times, robotic cab drivers turn out to be more reliable than mutant cab drivers, such as those currently used in NYC.

That's an easy one... (2, Insightful)

parachutepenguin (1154713) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592715)

$$$$ 13,000 Cash Cabs $$$$

Cash Cab [wikipedia.org]

Electric + GPS + SmartPhone Apps + Bike Friendly (5, Insightful)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27592739)

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 (3, Interesting)

pommiekiwifruit (570416) | more than 5 years ago | (#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...

Simple Answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27593019)

... Drop the taxis and develop a large and extensive mass transit system --- greater than that which already exists by a huge amount --- so much so that most people can jump on and off the transit with ease and get all over the city.

It sounds hard, but if you pay some brains to figure it out, it will happen.

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