Tag: Uber

Self-driving Uber: Coming your way in 10 years or so

July 11th, 2014 by

 

I drive just like Mom and Dad!
I drive just like Mom and Dad!

I figured someone already thought of this idea, so I Googled it before writing a blog post. Sure enough, Uber’s CEO has already announced that eventually Ubers will be driverless vehicles. It makes perfect sense. The biggest cost of a taxi –or Uber ride– is the cost of the person behind the wheel.

In a world of driverless cars + uber, many people could be taxi fleet owners, or just put their own private care out to work whenever they’re not using it themselves. In urban areas it could mean not even needing to have a parking spot. Just keep the car on the road the whole day and night, making money all the while.

Although it sounds a little spooky I think it will be pretty cool. It will change family dynamics, however. For example, young kids may start to go visit their grandparents or cousins for the weekend hundreds of miles away. Parents will be able to monitor the driverless travel through video surveillance, and “Mom’s Taxi” will become a thing of the past for kids’ activities.

Just a thought.

photo credit: foilman via photopin cc

By healthcare business consultant David E. Williams of the Health Business Group

 

Uber: An antidote to taxi corruption

February 3rd, 2014 by

Taxi service in the Boston metro area is pretty bad. Cabs are still booked by phone. The dispatcher lacks caller ID so the street address and name have to be dictated. Cabs often show up late or to the wrong street. In speaking with cabbies over the years I’ve learned that one of the problems is that dispatchers play favorites, in particular by awarding jobs to those drivers who pay them bribes. One of the results of that is poor service for customers who are not always sent the most convenient cabs. I’m not the expert on corruption in the cab business but you can read more about it in the Boston Globe if you don’t believe me.

So I’m grateful for the Uber service, which provides a more convenient, less expensive service that in my experience has also been more reliable and friendlier than the taxi alternative. (If you don’t know, Uber is a smartphone app that allows passengers to request private cars, cabs, SUVs or black cars and to pay automatically.) Interestingly –and not surprisingly to me– I am encountering UberX drivers who are former taxi drivers for the taxi companies in my town. When I ask them what they like about Uber they mention the ability to determine their own hours –but when I push them a little more they open up about the lack of corruption as another reason to participate.

Now, not every one is so sanguine about Uber. (See Why Does Uber Suck Now?) for a different take by one of my neighbors. I agree that Uber staff have been a bit sleazy, at least in New York, and I’m sure that experience with drivers will be variable. But I don’t object at all to surge pricing. As long as it’s disclosed it should bring more cars on the road when there’s demand for them. (You can always take a cab if you don’t like it.)

At least for now, Uber is giving out its venture capitalists’ money to build up the business. If you use my invite code: psx4h to join Uber you’ll get a $20 credit and so will I.

If you’ve read all the way to this point and are wondering about the connection to health care, I’m sorry to say there isn’t one.

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By David E. Williams of the Health Business Group