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Self-Driving Taxis Could Have a Vomit Problem

Discussion in 'News' started by Jo3030, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. Jo3030

    Jo3030 Moderator Moderator

    Location:
    Washington DC
    Driving:
    UberX
    Self-Driving Taxis Could Have a Vomit Problem

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/arti...-organic&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social

    It didn’t take long for Pritam Singh to learn a key lesson about working for Lyft. People are disgusting. They have a nasty habit of throwing up in moving vehicles.

    Rideshare drivers are acutely aware that customers tend to do that, along with slightly less annoying things like wiping hamburger-greasy fingers on armrests and turning floor mats into swamps of slush. Singh, who ferries passengers for Lyft Inc. in Manhattan several evenings a week, drops about $200 a month cleaning -- really, sometimes it feels like sanitizing -- his Toyota Camry.

    For General Motors Co., Uber Technologies Inc. and others mulling a foray into robotaxis, the bill could be in the tens of millions of dollars annually. When you add things like insurance, inventory storage and the steadily shrinking value of beat-up cars? Billions.

    That casts a pall on the idea, held dear by the likes of Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick, that the advent of self-driving will swiftly make ridesharing so cheap that most Americans won’t bother to own their own vehicles.

    How to deal with vomit represents one of many great unanswered questions about the mythic business model that Kalanick once summed up as, basically, getting rid of “the other dude in the car.” In the future he and Lyft co-founder John Zimmer have described, apps and bots do the work, consumers save big time and investors just rake it in. But number-crunchers at GM and companies including Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo are adding up a lot of costs that will get in the way of robotaxis being cash cows.

    Apple and Waymo have turned to Avis Budget Group Inc. and Hertz Global Holdings Inc. for help in managing driverless fleets. Even big rental companies, though, have struggled to contain their own costs in taking care of cars and trucks used by the great unwashed public.

    “It is a really big issue and no one has figured it out,” said Mark Wakefield, co-head of the global automotive practice at the consulting firm AlixPartners. “No one is even betting on the outcome.”

    That’s not to say the no-driver prize won’t eventually be worth a lot, which is why so many are jockeying for position, and doing their homework.

    GM’s Maven unit, which competes with Avis’s Zipcar in the hourly rental business and leases vehicles to Uber and Lyft drivers, has studied how much abuse rideshare vehicles take. In addition to the damage inflicted and filth deposited by customers, the costs for insurance and parking -- pricey in cities like New York and San Francisco, where ride hailing is popular -- will be substantial, said Peter Kosak, GM’s executive director of urban mobility.

    Ready or not, robotaxis are being prepared for the roads. GM Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said last month that the automaker is expanding its fleet of self-driving, all-electric Chevrolet Bolts from 50 to 180. Lyft plans to test the Bolt as a robotaxi in San Francisco, with a human babysitting the steering wheel. GM will also run trials in Detroit and Scottsdale, Arizona.

    Robotaxis’ Potential
    The robotaxi, without any human to compensate for navigating traffic, might indeed be a gold mine. Its arrival could be one of those big economy-altering events, freeing up acres of parking space in cities, eliminating the need for garages in homes and handing people thousands of dollars a year in new disposable income. AlixPartners’ Wakefield said it could fundamentally change how many people view and buy transportation.

    Lyft’s Zimmer recently described a personal vehicle as “a ball and chain that gets dragged through our daily life” and predicted that by 2025, private car ownership will “all but end” in major U.S. cities.

    That will happen only if companies like GM can figure out how to make all the costs makes sense. “Lyft and Uber don’t care about managing the fleet,” said GM’s Kosak. “Down the road, you’ll need to dictate who does all of that.”

    It probably won’t be Lyft, according to Brian Hsu, the company’s vice president of supply. “We stay asset light,” Hsu said. “We realized very early on that fleet management is like real estate management. That’s a capability that is very different from what we do.”

    Rental Expertise
    Hsu said rental-car companies could be an answer because they have expertise, along with vast lots in cities all over the U.S. Hertz has a deal to manage a small fleet of self-driving Lexus RX 450h sport utility vehicles for Apple, and Avis has inked a similar arrangement with 600 self-driving Chrysler minivans for Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo autonomous technology division.

    What might the rental companies charge? They typically deal with depreciation of more than $300 per car every month; Hertz has $10 billion in vehicles on its books and depreciates them to the tune of $2 billion a year. Add in cleaning and maintenance, and the total may be $400 to $600 per a month, Wakefield said.

    And when a robotaxi is past its prime? Hertz has been taking a beating reselling into a declining used-car market. Buying too many passenger cars and not enough SUVs has played a big role in Hertz losing more than $600 million in the last two quarters. Billionaire Carl Icahn has seen close to $1 billion in paper losses on his $1.3 billion investment in Hertz largely because it had so much trouble selling its flagging vehicles into a soft market for used-car values.

    Fleet Managers
    That kind of risk is why companies pursuing robotaxis are starting to work with different players to manage fleets. Cox Automotive Inc., which owns the used-car auction house Manheim, has deals with Uber and Maven; Cox also helps Tesla Inc. sell off-lease cars.

    Cox created an app called Flexdrive, which lets auto dealers offer subscriptions to cars as an alternative to buying or leasing. Since Cox already has facilities to house, clean and manage cars, the company is primed to deal with robotaxis, said Janet Barnard, president of Cox’s inventory solutions group.

    Rideshare drivers can offer the future robotaxi industry all kinds of advice. Stay off the roads after the bars close. Refuse to pick up anyone carrying a sack from a fast-food joint. And Singh, the Lyft driver in Manhattan, advises stashing barf bags in plain sight. He vacuums and scrubs the interior of his Camry daily, always stocking bottles of water.

    Singh vividly recalls the first time a client upchucked. “I was lucky -- I was at a light, and he opened the door and threw up outside,” he said. “That’s why I started to carry the bags.”
     
    tohunt4me likes this.
  2. Maven

    Maven Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Driving:
    UberX
    The author is either incompetent, an idiot, or more interested in a fake headline that will attract readers. The SDC vomit problem was solved long ago, once vomit detected, route car to maintenance facility for cleaning, and charge a fee to the passenger who vomited. The rest of the article is stolen from similar stories that have been reported elsewhere.
     
    !FillerUp! likes this.
  3. Ca$h4

    Ca$h4 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    NYC
  4. WeirdBob

    WeirdBob Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Michigan
    I'm having trouble finding information on automated vomit detection systems via Google. Got any links? Academic papers, or the names of companies working on it? Perhaps there is some money to be made in that vertical.
     
    Bulls23 likes this.
  5. d0n

    d0n Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Mongolia
    Wait until they crap on them for ****s and giggles.
     

  6. Maven

    Maven Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Driving:
    UberX
    Same solution as a little urine, maintenance clean then bill the crapper. The more disturbing problem, ignored by the article, is hacking the car, with or without a passenger, for theft, kidnapping, or to be used as a weapon.
     
    ABC123DEF and Buckiemohawk like this.
  7. d0n

    d0n Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Mongolia
    So, are they are going to pay someone to look at videos? Because quite frankly, there is no technology in visual recognition that can differ vomit from sweat or water, if they plan to clean up after everything going on in a car, they are in for the biggest pax loss of all time this is if they plan to use something accurate like ultra violet light, also, what if i poop and kick it under the sit?

    Anyone saying they can solve all those problems is nothing but a snake oil salesman.
     
  8. Maven

    Maven Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Driving:
    UberX
    There are far more difficult SDCs technical issues that need to be solved. Current technology already does urine detection and feces detection. If you want to get creative then surreptitiously deposit a tear-gas canister in the SDC, set to release 5 minutes after the first passenger enters, at least two hours after you leave the SDC. That way its origin is more difficult to determine. Hope you didn't leave any fingerprints or DNA on the canister.
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
  9. d0n

    d0n Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Mongolia
    Come on man...

    I know you are a hardcore advocate for self driving but you need to be realistic and read what you are linking.

    One is a magnet to measure weight caused to diapers by liquid, the other senses plain wetness.

    The feces link is anything but what you are looking to support your claim.

    I already know what they will use for recognition but it still cannot recognize because it lacks odor detection and if they somehow installed it, you would have problems with body odor and stink bombs left as a prank.

    You need visual, scent and substance recognition.

    Impussibru.
     
    UberSneaky, Bulls23 and WeirdBob like this.
  10. WeirdBob

    WeirdBob Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Michigan
    Can an SDC urine detector tell the difference between urine and butt sweat? Or, is the simple answer that people who sweat should avoid SDCs to keep from getting charged?

    Houston, Texas in the summertime. Gonna be a lot of downtime when cars have to go back for seat cleaning after each passenger. And a lot of pax mad about paying extra.

    I suppose the answer there is BYO plastic seat covers.
     
  11. Maven

    Maven Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Driving:
    UberX
    If you really insist on getting technical, back during the Vietnam War, US Army had equipment to "sniff" out biochemical markers unique to humans including urine, feces and sweat. It's O-L-D technology.
    Butt-sweat is an interesting problem. We may need to resort to something really revolutionary .. like .. maybe .. air conditioning. :D If that does not work the people may just have to deal. I've been in taxis that were pretty rank. :(
     
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2017
  12. d0n

    d0n Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Mongolia
    See, now you are getting the idea.

    The human mind is very creative, terrorists leaving mustard gas? what?

    Of course they did.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_sniffer

    Done by humans.

    And to top it all, the compounds used for reaction to detect such cases are acidic, made to be carefully handled by humans, imagine an automated system using such things on a sit, you are going to put chaps on people's pants and maybe cause irritation not to mention the sit will have holes.

    Coming up with a detection system accurate enough is going to cost them half of what they are spending on self driving research.

    I guess they could use materials that are acid resistant and once found taken to the cleaning facility, just be careful with sweat and odor, still you can't catch someone squatting behind the front sit, taking a crap and kicking it under the sit.

    I would imagine an entire system that sprays the entire backside, a big glass stopping the spray from entering the front (watch out for the tech on the drivers sit) but what happens if someone sits on the front sit?

    I can't imagine the cost of that after every ride, they are better off paying people to clean the car after every ride.

    No wait, I retract what I said, doing that every single ride will be a laughable waste of money.
     
  13. Maven

    Maven Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Driving:
    UberX
    You may have noticed that Urine, Feces, and Sweat tend to SMELL because of biochemical markers in the AIR that can be easily detected. Remember, this detection tech existed 50-YEARS ago. I'm not going to research it, but common sense tells me that equivalent functionality is much cheaper and much more compact today then it was half a century ago. A tiny addition compared to the overall cost of an SDC.
     
  14. d0n

    d0n Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Mongolia
    That detection is not based on smell, it's based on chemical reactions (colors) produced by mixing acid and alkaloids.
     
    UberSneaky likes this.
  15. Yozee

    Yozee Active Member

    Location:
    Chicago
    I can not wait for uber serve driving cars!!! Revenge of the ants.
     
    tohunt4me likes this.
  16. Ca$h4

    Ca$h4 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    NYC
  17. Strange Fruit

    Strange Fruit Well-Known Member

    Location:
    San Francisco
    Driving:
    UberX
    That was awesome. I almost thought the sound was faked until I saw the corroborating visual.
     
    tohunt4me likes this.
  18. heynow321

    heynow321 Well-Known Member

    lol people in cities will just give up cars? What are the boat/atv owners going to do when the weekend rolls around and they want to use their toys?

    What about the millions of people in cities who go on extended car/camping trips with their canoe or kayak or bike or paddle board?

    Think about the almost unimaginable other uses that people use cars for other than just getting from a to b?

    The idea that people are going to give up vehicle ownership is so absurd I can't believe they can make these silly predictions with a straight face.
     
  19. Maven

    Maven Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Connecticut
    Driving:
    UberX
    lol, people giving up trusted network news for Cable-TV comedy infotainment like the "Daily Show" or "Last Week tonight"
    lol, people giving up newspapers and books for blogs and videos.
    lol, people giving up phone calls for Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, text messages, and social media.
    lol, people giving up their privacy by posting everything about their daily lives online.
    lol, Sears, Kmart JC Penny, Macy's and other retail industry leaders for decades now failing.
    lol, President Trump, two words more than half the country never expected to see together.
    Maybe giving up cars in a decade or two is not as crazy as it seems to you today. :D
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
    The Mollusk likes this.
  20. Ca$h4

    Ca$h4 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    NYC
    Agree. How many things can you do in a day with a car? Without one? Bicycles and red bulls isn't the same as having a car.

    The sound is my Uber ringtone. And i use it if someone is eating in my car.
     

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