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A Robotic Taxi Named robuCAB 69

Posted by Zonk
from the take-me-home-jeeves dept.
Roland Piquepaille writes "According to ICT Results, an EU-funded project named Embounded 'has achieved the twin, and apparently contradictory, goals of making embedded systems both smarter and tougher.' One example is the robuCAB, a '4 seat automated people mover' developed by a French company and built from a 4 wheel-drive electric chassis with on-board PC. This autonomous vehicle follows the curb and carries several embedded systems, with one camera on the path edge, another device tracking the angle and direction of the curb, while others control the gearing and acceleration. robuCABs are not totally independent. They move over pre-defined circuits which contain a series of sensors below the ground. But read more for additional references and a picture of two robuCABs on the road."
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A Robotic Taxi Named robuCAB

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  • Wrong Name (Score:5, Funny)

    by k_187 (61692) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @06:43PM (#22733646) Journal
    I'm not using it until they change the name to JohnnyCab
    • by Thwomp (773873)
      You beat me to it! At the very least I'll accept a cab voiced by Robert Picardo.
    • You have to wonder at any company that picks the name "Rob-U-Cab". Most of the time the companies have the good sense and decency to at least pretend. After the Titanic, you didn't hear about any vessels named the USS Improved or the HMS Seaworthy, did you? Usually when companies are honest like this somebody gets fired [snopes.com]...
    • Yes, the Rob-u-Cab. You get in, and when you get out, you find all your possesions have been lifted. Seriously, is anyone thick enough to ride in a cab that will rob you?
      • by PReDiToR (687141)

        Not all cab drivers are trying to rob you, but some do.
        This is stupid, but they are so thick they don't realise it! Here is why.

        The first mile of any cab journey is the most profitable for any cab driver.

        The starting price in cabs where I live (UK) is £3.00 (about $1.50), and after that each mile costs £1.20 ($0.65).
        Going the long way round or taking a "scenic detour" is not worth the driver's time when you consider the payouts that guy has on his sheet.

        Getting a drive can cost up to
        • by neumayr (819083)
          Except for the mixup in currency conversion - it's more like two dollars per pound, not two pounds per dollar - I totally agree with you.
          Satellite navigation totally fails in most European cities I've been to, I don't see how an automatic cab would work except maybe on some well defined overland routes, like from the airport to some trainstation.
    • But honestly speaking, without a human on board, what's the chance of abuse for this? Like, a bunch of guys drunk at a party, call over RoboCab...then decide to trash it since there's no one to tell 'em off.

      ~Jarik
  • Nice name (Score:5, Funny)

    by kermit1221 (75994) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @06:48PM (#22733696)
    Little concerned about it though. Rob-U-Cab doesn't sound like a very nice thing...
    • With marketing like this, the French taxi industry doesn't need enemies.
      • With marketing like this, the French taxi industry doesn't need enemies.

        Funny, but I was thinking of the Dutch taxi industry. They're always amazed when I tell them how to get to obscure little towns without grand detours, cutting their 'clip' in half.
        I now use the phrase 'honest as a Dutch taxi driver' with abandon and alacrity.
    • by NeuroKoan (12458)
      That's how I read it too.

      "Hey honey, want to ride the rob you cab? It'll be fun!"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nick_davison (217681)
      You've evidently not paid a cab fair in London.

      Of course, RobYou-RefuseToTakeYouToABunchOfPlaces-GetLost-WeaveDownAlternatingStreetsToUpTheMileage-ForceYouToListenToCrapMusic-AndSpeakDebatableEnglish-Cab turned out to be a bit of a mouthful.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Invictus42 (520458)
      Hey at least it's a step up from the last version, stabuCAB.
    • by syousef (465911)
      Rob-U-Cab doesn't sound like a very nice thing...

      When I work the late shift I get the cab home. Rob-U-Cab doesn't sound like anything new.
  • Also had Total recall come to mind on the subject line
  • hmmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @06:54PM (#22733766) Journal
    Quick! someone tag this: whatcouldpossiblygowrong

    these cabs require an underground infrastructure [guides in this case] that doesn't exist on most roads/highways that are frequently used by people- no only that but the farther you get out away from populated areas or even connections between populated areas, the less chance there's going to be anything for the cabs to go by as far as navigation is concerned. The whole concept relies on the idea that most roads or at least the ones commonly used will have these markers imbedded beneath the road and that is why it's not going to work for a while.
    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by QuantumG (50515) *
      Clearly you didn't RTFA as you would have seen they are not "cars". They are more like golf buggies.

      So your entire comment is stupid.

      RTFA.
      RTFA.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by wizardforce (1005805)

        Clearly you didn't RTFA as you would have seen
        I'm a slashdotter, what did you expect you insensitive clod?!
      • by geekoid (135745)
        Did he say cars? His post is perfectly correct. They need an infrastructure they will get more difficult to get the farther away you town is from the main infrastructure.

        RTFP
        RTFP
      • Clearly you didn't RTFA as you would have seen they are not "cars". They are more like golf buggies.

        So your entire comment is stupid.

        RTFA.
        RTFA.


        This sounds really funny if you read it as though "Comic Book Guy" from The Simpsons were saying it.
    • by lexarius (560925)
      The targets for these carts is most likely things like retirement communities or other large, privately owned compounds (or cooperating businesses in a commercial district) of sufficient size to require roads.
    • by Memroid (898199)
      I've always wondered how long it would take, after the introduction of smart cars (which follow signals), for malicious people to create false signals, driving cars off of roads... or cliffs.
    • by houghi (78078)

      Quick! someone tag this: whatcouldpossiblygowrong
      How about a tag It is Roland again, so nothing to see here, move along.
    • by eggfoolr (999317)
      If you use RFID chips embedded in the roads, you could quickly and cheaply create electronic lanes on all your roads.

      Punching them into existing roads would be easy. All you need to do is insure they are replaced (like road markings) when the road is dug up or re-laid.
    • The whole concept relies on the idea that most roads or at least the ones commonly used will have these markers imbedded beneath the road and that is why it's not going to work for a while.

      If they drop one sensor in every pothole in Manhattan, they will have all the streets on the island covered. Then they could replace, maybe a 25% (my rough estimate of the percentage of cabs that never go to the other boroughs) of the taxis with 3500 rob-u-cabs. Then we can all laugh as we watch robots try to navigate s
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      In many cities I could see one or two road axis that would really benefit from a 24/24 autonomous transportation system. Putting wires down one or two roads couldn't be that expensive...
  • Um, anyone else read it as that?
  • by TheLazySci-FiAuthor (1089561) <thelazyscifiauthor@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @07:00PM (#22733816) Homepage Journal
    I love seeing the new technologies emerging, but with the world wide web and the speed of notification it offers, sometimes I feel a little chagrined that even though right here and now there are functional, autonomous vehicles, it will probably still be years before my first ride in one.

    Now, I could split hairs and note that every airliner I have flown on has had autopilot, probably of quality high enough to even land the plane, but it's not the same as sending a text and then 5 minutes later having a wheeled robot show up at my curb to whisk me away to....well, probably taco bell or something.

    I think about these things. Like, when will I see my first bona-fide working (i.e. employed) humanoid robot? I asked my wife and brother and both agree it likely will be another 5-10 years and it will probably be at some fancy hotel or resort. This is of course assuming I somehow find myself at a fancy hotel or resort - I guess that's something to look forward to as well!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Cousarr (1117563)
      Actually if you landed at a large airport in a large plane, the pilot probably had and used an autoland.
  • those things look like golf carts
  • ... look forward to the robuZIP and the robuUHA.
  • I speculate that this will encounter fate similar to that of the Chevy Nova. "No va" in Spanish means "doesn't go" - it wasn't very popular out Spanish speaking countries.... who, in the English-speaking world, is going to get into a "rob-u-cab" ?
  • Rob You Cab? Don't they already have these in New York city...
  • Rob-U-Cab? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by NynexNinja (379583)
    Sounds like its not going to be cheap!
  • I can't wait. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @07:36PM (#22734116)
    I can't wait for my self-driving car. Go to sleep in the car Friday night, wake up in Vegas/SanFran/Wherever in the morning. Visting mom would be a lot less of a chore. It's 8 hours of driving round trip for a visit that lasts a few hours at most. (I can't stay in her smoke-saturated apartment any longer than that.) Not far enough to make flying a viable option, no train station on her end. If I didn't have to pay attention to the road, I could play a game, read a book, watch a movie, read slashdot, take a nap, etc.
    • by Nataku564 (668188)
      Kind of like grabbing a greyhound, amtrak or any of the major airlines ... well, admittedly the last one is much less convenient post 9/11.
    • I can't wait for my self-driving car. Go to sleep in the car Friday night, wake up in Vegas/SanFran/Wherever in the morning. Visting mom would be a lot less of a chore.
      That's just technological overkill. I'm able to achieve the same results with 40oz of whiskey. It's cheaper, DIY, and probably safer.
    • by mbstone (457308)
      I can't wait for my self-driving car. Go to sleep in the car Friday night, wake up in Vegas in the morning.

      1. Remove $ from wallet.
      2. Burn it.
      3. Drink 400ml of your favorite distilled spirits.
      4. Pass out.

      You've just saved 40 gallons of gas and two days' hotel bill!!
    • by Zoxed (676559)
      > I can't wait for my self-driving car. Go to sleep in the car Friday night, wake up in Vegas/SanFran/Wherever in the morning. Visting mom would be a lot less of a chore.

      It's called train :-)
    • by deander2 (26173) *
      yeah, that's what i do in vegas too. "visit my mom" =P
  • by jcuervo (715139)
    In Soviet France, cabbie robs YOU!
  • ...when they install a robot Ben Bailey.
  • What happens when you don't pay?

    oh.
    Will we have, say, 20 seconds or so?
  • So I take it I must be the last person who hasn't gotten the Firefox extension that blocks articles by Roland Piquepaille? I see nothing in the comments or the tags.

    I should have recognized it from the signature link to his blog promising videos and/or photos at the end of the entry.

    - RG>
    • Well, you can see how I tagged it...

      For a while the editors were good in snipping off his link whoring "for more information..." lines, but eventually he wears them down, I guess.

  • Great... now who's going to program them to cut you off?
  • One example is the robuCAB, a '4 seat automated people mover'

    Is this a true 4-seat mover, built from scratch that way, or is it just two 2-seat movers joined together? The real future is in the one that is built with 4 seats from the ground up.
  • So what do these embedded systems? "They run ABS ('anti-lock breaking systems') in cars, avionics and high-tech toasters.
    Since when do toasters have ABS installed in them? Is it so your toast doesn't go skidding across the countertop?
  • The article says the car guides itself based on the kerb at the side of the road. What happens when someone parks on the side of the road, making the car lose sight of the kerb?

When speculation has done its worst, two plus two still equals four. -- S. Johnson

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