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"If I had to get a new Ph.D. now, I'd get it in polymer engineering - the manipulation of matter."
- Bart Kosko

Automated Taxi  
  A driverless taxicab.  

...he spotted the well-dressed shape of his target hailing an automated taxi...

Spotting his pursuer approaching rapidly, a frantic Taneer had to wait for the door to open before he could throw himself inside the cab. While the automated vehicle's voice inquired politely as to where its passenger wished to go, Taneer yelped wildly, "Security, security!"

"I have already locked the doors," the cab assured him in calm, unthreatening, preprogrammed tones. "Destination, please?"

...he urgently addressed the vehicle's AI."Can't we go any faster? I'm already running late."

Since the taxi utilized sophisticated electronic sensors to perceive its surroundings, the traditional forward windshield existed only to allow fares to see where they were going. The vehicle was as aware of this as its passenger.

"As you can see, sir, this is a very busy street, and I am forbidden by law and by coding from forcing a path..."

All were equipped with the same city-regulated programming.

From Sagramanda, by Alan Dean Foster.
Published by Pyr in 2006
Additional resources -

The robotic or automated taxi is a frequently explored theme in sf; see Tin Cabby from Cities in Flight [1957], the autocab from Between Planets [1951] and the autonomic cab from The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch [1964].

The earliest mention I know about is the driverless taxi from The Living Machine (1935) by David H. Keller.

There are real-life attempts to create automated taxis; see ULTra - driverless automatic taxi and the RobuCAB Robotic Taxi.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Sagramanda
  More Ideas and Technology by Alan Dean Foster
  Tech news articles related to Sagramanda
  Tech news articles related to works by Alan Dean Foster

Automated Taxi-related news articles:
  - Calling Google's RoboTaxi
  - Fleets Of Ford Autonomous Cars In 5 Years
  - Mercedes-Benz Autonomous Taxi Fleet In 3 Years

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