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4 High-Tech Breakthroughs For More Efficient Taxi Cab Service

The venerable taxi cab has been a fixture of American commuting for decades -- but that doesn't mean its technology has been standing still. New innovations are making taxi services more pleasant and convenient than you may have realized. Check out these four developments that just might convert you into a taxi service "frequent flyer."

1. Improved City Planning

Taxi cabs equipped with GPS (global positioning system) systems can collect and provide critical data about the way traffic flows through a major city -- and this could make your future travels faster and more enjoyable. 

  • This work began in 2009 when Microsoft Research Asia studied accumulated GPS data from 33,000 Beijing taxi cabs. The data clearly showed when and where traffic jams and slowdowns developed throughout the city, and how drivers made use of alternate routes to avoid the worst bottlenecks.
  • While it may take years for city planners to construct new or widened avenues in response to accumulated taxi cab GPS data, the resulting changes could mean that your future rides get you where you're going without the delays and frustrations caused by overloaded streets. 

2. More Efficient Operation (and Maybe Even Lower Rates)

As GPS in taxi cabs becomes more and more commonplace, you may benefit from this technology in a couple of ways, both directly and indirectly. GPS locating and tracking can make for more efficient routes for passengers as well as more streamlined operation for the taxi cab service.

  • By using a built-in or app-driven GPS device, passengers can rest assured that their drivers are always following the shortest path from starting point to destination. Shorter trips result in lower total fares and faster travel times.
  • GPS tracking devices in vehicles can help taxi services make precise reports on how much fuel each cab is using, how many stops the vehicle made, and the number of passengers it carried on each trip. This allows the company to take steps to increase operational efficiency and quite possibly lower their rates. The technology has already proved useful for limousine services.

3. Smarter Cab Design

New design features have made taxi cabs more fuel-efficient and space-efficient than ever. If you plan to live, work, or vacation in New York City, you can flag down one of these state-of-the-art cabs for yourself. A contest by the Taxi Commission to develop the "Taxi of Tomorrow" resulted in an improved design that will be the vehicle of choice for many years to come as the city's aging fleet is gradually phased out. These state-of-the-art cabs include:

  • An unusually efficient use of interior space within a smaller-than-normal frame, which will open up an estimated 5 acres of additional roadway availability in the crowded city
  • Sliding passenger doors and retractable side steps for improved safety
  • Built-in GPS and passenger climate controls
  • Anti-microbial cabin materials to help reduce disease and odor transmission

4. Driverless Taxi Cabs

If you've ever had a driver you weren't especially fond of, you'll be happy to learn that driverless taxi cabs appear to be on their way. A pilot program in New York is already working on putting 9,000 of these vehicles into service in parts of the city. If New Yorkers respond favorably, expect other big cities to follow suit. If you spend a lot of time in cabs, you'll love what these vehicles have to offer, including:

  • Built-in vending machines selling everything from makeup to hot foods
  • An automated internal vacuum that cleans and deodorizes the cabin after each use
  • The ability to communicate with passengers in a variety of languages
  • The ability to respond to your voice commands or mobile device text commands

As you can see, the future of taxi service is already in the works, and passengers can anticipate some fantastic new developments. If you've never really thought about using taxis before, give it some serious thought as technology continues to improve the user experience. If you use taxis all the time, the road ahead looks brighter than ever!