Who Will Clean (Disgusting?) Self-Driving Cars

business_ethics_highlights_2Who will clean autonomous vehicles of the future—or perhaps more to the point, who will keep them clean? The author of the piece linked below seems to think that’s an insurmountable problem. We suspect that it’s a solvable problem, and one that will be solved just because the economic benefits of keeping self-driving cars user-friendly (which means, among other things, reasonably clean) are so enormous.

More interesting, perhaps, are the bits of speculation about what unintended uses people might put such cars to. Brothels on wheels? Drug dens that evade surveillance? Cheap place to take a nap? All of those possibilities come with risks, both for the riders and for the companies that own the car.

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LINK: The Dirty Truth Coming for Self-Driving Cars (by Meredith Broussard for Slate)

Who will clean self-driving vehicles?

I found myself wondering this recently as my son and I tidied the family car after a road trip. We’d been driving for only five hours, but we had produced two grocery bags of trash: water bottles, parking stubs, wrappers from lunchtime hoagies, reading material, a roll of Scotch tape, and a ping-pong ball among other miscellany that had accumulated over the short time. It wasn’t unusual. In my family, I’m the one who remembers to clean out the car, so I’m all too familiar with the volume and medley of mess that can be generated in vehicle regularly used by adults and kids.

Yet with companies like Uber, Waymo, and Lyft planning to launch their first generation of self-driving cars as shared taxis, it’s not yet clear who or what will be there to clean up the half-drunk Starbucks cup, wipe down the mystery stickiness on the seat, or handle even less hygienic situations. It’s not just a trivial matter: it’s an issue of sanitation and rider well-being—one more pressing for future users than you might imagine….

What do you think?


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