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Driverless Taxis

kind of like bumper cars . . . only practical
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When driving in the city, it hardly matters if you drive like a jackrabbit runs or if you brake for green lights. Unless you or the person in front of you turns, you are usually stuck with each other for the long haul. Sometimes it seems like you're swept along at the whim of the road, powerless to control anything but the horn. And when you DO try to get ahead in the traffic jam . . . enter the fender bender. Give me a conveyor belt!

The idea of conveyor belt roadways has been posited before on the Internet, but it doesn't quite capture my entire vision. I think of this as a personalized system of public transportation. Basically, this would provide driverless taxis. All you need is a huge system of conveyor belts, a trusty central computer, a fleet of to-be-conveyed vehicles, and a lot of magnets.

How it works:

1. Flag a Taxi. Standing at an entrance point, you push a button to "flag" your taxi. The central computer locates a riderless taxi coming up the conveyor belt and activates its magnet. The entrance point is atop a very powerful magnet, so the taxi will be drawn to it as it approaches.

2. Ride to your destination. When you enter, you type in the address where you would like to go, and the computer uses the taxi's magnets (which turn off and on) to direct you there. The taxi rides on the conveyor belt road like a big soda bottle . . . or more like a Weeble (those toys that wobble, but they don't fall down). Your extremely comfortable seat, inside, is hung with a complex suspension system that reduces turbulance for the rider. This is a good thing, because the taxis are constantly bumping into eachother as they are shifting from one side of the conveyor belt to the other in effort to navigate.

All turns and destinations on the right-hand side of the conveyor belt road are marked with North magnetic poles. All left-hand destinations are South pole magnets. The computer can choose which to activate in the car so you don't just stick to any old magnet.

3. You get out. Once your taxi has docked at the intended destination, you simply get out and close the door. The closing of the door triggers the computer to turn off all magnets and the taxi goes back to being conveyed about the city until another rider needs it. This allows for the survival of the age-old tradition of leaving umbrellas, wallets, cell-phones, etc. in a taxi and cursing frantically as the abandoned belongings speed away into a mess of identical taxis.

You can buy a monthly taxi pass (just like the bus) or pay per ride via the fare box inside. (The door doesn't open to let you out if you don't pay, though, so don't get in without your money.)

Warning: avoid wearing anything with a kind of metal in it that might be attracted to magnets. You might want to have those fillings removed, for instance. Also, be careful with your electronics--unless you're TRYING to erase the memory on your computer.

On the bright side, arthritis patients (and other chronic pain sufferers) may experience temporary relief from their symptoms when riding in the driverless taxis.

Safe riding!

Twenty Dollar Duck, Aug 22 2006

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       Powerful magnet wipes all nearby hard drives, and chaos ensues.
normzone, Aug 22 2006
  

       / All you need is a huge system of conveyor belts, a trusty central computer, a fleet of to-be-conveyed vehicles, and a lot of magnets./   

       First class comedy, right there.
Texticle, Aug 22 2006
  

       why not just take a bus?
Louis212, Oct 10 2006
  

       The basic idea is good, and it has been proposed a million times . Look up PRT. But the conveyor belt solution is just horrible. Huge investment. Huge maintainace cost. Prone to breaking down. Just use robotic cars instead.
kinemojo, Dec 21 2006
  
      
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