Hailo’s robot resistance spills onto London landmarks (Wired UK)


Taxi app Hailo has
taken aim at a £100m government investment in driverless cars
by launching a public art campaign in which photographic
portraits of London cabbies are projected onto major landmarks
across the capital.

“Face to Faceless” has been designed to celebrate the important
role that cab drivers play and as a protest against the future
driverless world. Hailo argues that London cabbies are an important
part of the city’s character, and says that the photographs have
been captured in a style that represents their knowledge and the
stories they can tell about the city.

“People don’t want robots; they need to know that their driver
will get them from A to B safely and securely. Nothing can replace
the relationship a passengers builds with their driver and we need
to stand up for drivers,” says Hailo CEO Gary Bramall.

The project was sparked by the announcement made by George
Osbourne during last week’s Budget that the government would be
pouring an extra £100m of funding into developing driverless cars.
The UK is determined to become a leader in autonomous vehicle
technology, and some estimates put the number of jobs that could be
created here by the transition as high as 320,000, but Hailo argues that technology is no
match for the experience and knowledge of London taxi drivers.

The portraits are being displayed exactly a month before the
inaugural National Cabbie Day on 27 April. “By heroing cab drivers
and projecting their faces over iconic London landmarks, we hope
passengers remember there’s more to a journey than just the
vehicle,” says Bramall.

With the driverless car trials already starting to take place on
UK roads, Hailo and all British cab drivers have legitimate reason
to start thinking about what a driverless future might mean for

It’s not just cabbies, either. Masternaut, a provider of fleet telematics solutions, surveyed
2,000 British employee who drive as part of their jobs and one in
four expressed fear that they may be replaced by autonomous
vehicles. Among younger drivers aged 25-34, the proportion who were
concerned about being replaced jumped to 55 percent.

They are probably not facing immediate extinction, however.
Recent research from SPA Future Thinking suggests that one in three British people
would not even get into a driverless vehicle right now. Fear of new
technology will not last forever though, and it would be reassuring
to many if the government would start to lay out plans to deal with
the potential fallout from the mass unemployment that could
potentially occur. For like it or not, the driverless future is

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27 March 2015 | 11:05 am – Source: wired.co.uk


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