With the looming advent of the age of autonomous cars comes many questions. Foremost among them: Can they deliver pizza? That's what Domino's and Ford will try to find out in the coming weeks when they deploy a jointly-developed self-driving car into the streets of Ann Arbor, Mich., that's equipped with a heated compartment hidden behind the passenger side rear window that rolls down and dishes out orders when a customer enters an access code into a tablet installed on the side of the vehicle. Whether its people or pizza, the question remains: What do you give a robot for a tip?
New York City's entire taxi fleet -- nearly 13,250 vehicles -- could be replaced by just 3,000 ridesharing cars if these services were optimized, according to a new study from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). CSAIL's Daniela Rus and her team created an algorithm that crunched data from three million New York City taxi rides, calculating routes and schedules for two-person, four-person, and ten-person vehicles. The results showed that 3,000 four-person cabs could help handle 98 percent of the City's demand (with a waiting time of 2.3 minutes), while 3,000 two-person cabs could handle 94 percent and just 2,000 ten-person vehicles could handle 95 percent. "To our knowledge, this is the first time that scientists have been able to experimentally quantify the trade-off between fleet size, capacity, waiting time, travel delay, and operational costs for a range of vehicles, from taxis to vans and shuttles," Rus said in a press release.