Misbehavior in Robotaxis

Liz Lindqwister, writing for The San Francisco Standard:

Ever thought about getting down and dirty in a robotaxi? Want to light up a cig or a joint on the drive home from the club? You’re not alone.

As autonomous vehicles become increasingly popular in San Francisco, some riders are wondering just how far they can push the vehicles’ limits — especially with no front-seat driver or chaperone to discourage them from questionable behavior.

For some, that’s a welcome invitation to test the autonomous vehicles’ limits. Megan, a woman in her 20s, took her first robotaxi ride on a recent late-night excursion. It was also her first time having sex in a driverless vehicle. The Standard is not providing exact dates of the riders’ debauchery to protect their privacy but has verified the rides took place through documentation. Names have been changed because of the riders’ privacy concerns.

Setting aside questions regarding their driving ability, autonomous taxis will prove to be an interesting behavioral playground. How clean will they remain? What’s to keep people from smoking, littering, pissing, puking, and, yes, screwing inside? If 95 percent of passengers can behave as they would in a human-driven taxi or ride share, but the other 5 don’t, they could turn putrid quickly. Like I wrote last night, you need to design for how people do behave, not how they should.

These robotaxis are all equipped with cameras, and the paying passenger is known through their account with the service, but the more you surveil their behavior while riding, the more you encroach on their privacy.

Friday, 11 August 2023