My mom was talking to a guy at a local store who told her he had just been in Japan and there they had robots driving all the taxis. He said that he was afraid to get into one at first, but he did and all went smoothly.
Now, I am not a expert on robotics, but I still believe that this is something that I would have heard about. (I develop software and much of my career has been spent developing software that talks to machines.)
However, I always remind myself that I don’t know every-damn-thing and so I am willing to ask. A quick google didn’t reveal anything except for the new pods at Heathrow.
To learn about some of the difficulties involved with driverless cars, read about the DARPA Grand Challenge. Car and Driver magazine also had a very good article about this sometime back.
Also, Wikipedia has an extensive article about driverless cars.
Judging by all these difficulties, even if there were a driverless car on a public road somewhere, I couldn’t imagine a taxi company wanting to get involved with the potential liability if there were an accident.
This guy is full of it. Japanese taxi drivers are humans. It’s rather impressive for an American because they wear crisp uniforms with hats and white gloves, like a fancy chauffeur.
The closest thing I can think of to a robot taxi (and it’s not very close) is that there’s a lever or something in Japanese taxis that the driver can pull to open the back door for the passenger. So when a taxi stops for you, the door will open seemingly automatically for you to get in.
Ah, who can say? I heard it from Mom who heard from someone else. Did she misunderstand or did he mislead? My guess is, he was a local know-it-all who picked a place sufficiently far enough away that he thought no one would be able to call him on it.