PHOENIX — Recent breakthroughs in transportation services might soon take a turn for the bizarre after representatives from Johnny Cab, Inc., confirmed this week their company will compete with Waymo One for a share of the emerging driverless taxi market.
Like Uber or Lyft, customers of driverless taxis summon a ride with a smartphone app, but in the case of Waymo One and Johnny Cab, the cars drive themselves.
Waymo One, the first commercial robotaxi service, unveiled plans on Wednesday to expand its program to include hundreds of customers that will participate in the early stages of the project’s development, according to representatives from Waymo One, an arm of Google parent Alphabet Inc.
However, plans for a smooth entry into the driverless taxi market were cut off 24-hours later when representatives of Johnny Cab, Inc., featured in the classic science-fiction film Total Recall, announced that their company is rolling out of pop culture obscurity with its own line of ‘people-responsive’ robot drivers.
“Why settle for a boring ride with a mute algorithm, when you can have one hell of a jaunt with Johnny?” said Ralph Clemmons, vice president of marketing for Johnny Cab, Inc., referring to the company’s namesake. “He’s the bot behind the wheel who likes to talk back, a critical voice missing from the national dialogue about driverless cars — until now.”
Driverless services are expected to dominate the transportation sector by 2030, according to some experts. The announcement of Johnny Cab, Inc., to enter the market race has left some riders wondering if the haste to replace human drivers with non-humans is worth the cost.
“I don’t mind the company of other people while I ride,” said Jay Zimmer, a frequent user of ride-share programs like Uber and Lyft. “I wouldn’t mind talking to a robot, either, as long it can hold a conversation. What will happen to the human drivers if the robots take over their jobs? Maybe they can scoot over to the passenger seat and help entertain the riders …”
While transportation experts debate what role, if any, human-like communication will play during rides in the ‘driverless’ era, Clemmons insisted there is little to discuss, as Johnny will provide riders with sufficient entertainment.
“Attitude goes a long way in this business,” he said. “I can’t speak for the hundreds of thousands of rank-and-file human drivers out there struggling to make a living and hold their jobs, but I can say Johnny will create an experience for riders they’ll never forget — and for a lot cheaper, too. Why settle for anything less than a whirl with this smart-ass?”
Marcella Cruz, Dec. 5, 2018