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"One can see the free software movement as a precusor for a "free hardware" or "free wetware" movement--one that will provide free libraries of designs for biological or nanotechnological products that replicators can be programmed to churn out."
- Charles Stross

Air-Taxi  
  A flying taxicab with autonomous features.  

The air-taxi found its way past and around other ground-cars and finally moved onto a smooth upward-slanting track and gained speed. Then it lifted upward with a slight jolt. Seldon, who had automatically been strapped in by a webbed restraint, felt himself pushed down into his seat and then up into the webbing. He said, "That didn't feel like antigravity."
"It wasn't," said Hummin. "That was a small jet reaction. Just enough to take us up to the tubes." What appeared before them now looked like a cliff patterned with cave openings, much like a checkerboard. Hummin maneuvered toward the D-7 opening, avoiding other air-taxis that were heading for other tunnels.
"You could crash easily," said Seldon, clearing his throat.
"So I probably would if everything depended on my senses and reactions, but this taxi is computerized and the computer can overrule me without trouble. The same is true for the other taxis. --Here we go."
They slid into D-7 as if they had been sucked in and the bright light of the open plaza mellowed, turning a warmer yellow hue. Hummin released the controls and sat back. He drew a deep breath and said, "Well, that's one stage successfully carried through. We might have been stopped at the station. In here, we're fairly safe." The ride was smooth and the walls of the tunnel slipped by rapidly. There was almost no sound, just a steady velvety whirr as the taxi sped along.
"How fast are we going?" asked Seldon. Hummin cast an eye briefly at the controls. "Three hundred and fifty kilometers an hour."
"Magnetic propulsion?"
"Yes. You have it on Helicon, I imagine."
"Yes. One line. I've never been on it myself, though I always meant to. I don't think it's anything like this."
"I'm sure it isn't. Trantor has many thousands of kilometers of these tunnels honeycombing the land subsurface and a number that snake under the shallower extensions of the ocean. It's the chief method of long-distance travel."
From Prelude to Foundation, by Isaac Asimov.
Published by Doubleday in 1988
Additional resources -

Compare to the hoverlimo from John Varley's 1992 novel Steel Beach. Also, see the Tin Cabby from James Blish's 1957 novel Cities in Flight, the gyrocab from You are Forbidden! by Jerry Sheldon, the helical from John Weston's 1950 story The Heli-Cab Hack and the aircab from Harry Bates' 1940 story Farewell to the Master.

Thanks to Connor Lawrence for writing in with this item.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Prelude to Foundation
  More Ideas and Technology by Isaac Asimov
  Tech news articles related to Prelude to Foundation
  Tech news articles related to works by Isaac Asimov

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