Imagine never arguing about the most efficient route or mentally debating the merits of tipping a driver whose ineptitude at the wheel almost killed you. Made in Germany (MIG) is an autonomous Volkswagen Passat cab you hail using an iPad app, and it eliminates the most unappealing aspect of taxis: the driver.
MIG is equipped with GPS navigation, video cameras, laser scanners, sensors and radars that it uses to construct a 3D map of its surroundings. It uses this map to detect pedestrians and other vehicles as it navigates the road. To hail MIG, passengers use an iPad that transmits its GPS location to the vehicle and tells the taxi where to pick them up. The passengers can track the taxi as it navigates toward them, and once in the vehicle they can use the iPad to tell the vehicle their destination.
The advantages of the technology are obvious: safer taxi rides to the airport and no surly drivers yelling at in-laws on cell phones while you're forced to listen to angry talk radio. And tipping is probably not required.
The following video created by the research team shows the driverless taxi in action: