Taxi app Hailocab is worried. Whilst it relies on expensive and well organised black cab drivers for its services, rival Uber (controversially) does away with the formalities, employing cheaper drivers. Worse still, one of the key investors is Google, which is working on driverless car technology, which could conceivably ultimately make Uber even cheaper and even more convenient.
So what to do?
Rather than try to build its own robots, Hailo has instead launched an advertising campaign called “Face to Faceless” to “remind the city that cabbies are part of its DNA”.
In other words, it has projected some photos on to buildings, and has press-released the photos.
Hailo CMO Gary Bramell is quoted as saying
“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.”
Actually, I quite like the idea of robots. He goes on:
“Cabbies have been a part of this city for hundreds of years and the move towards driverless cars is killing not only an entire profession, but a huge part of Britain’s heritage.”
He also invented an infuriating new verb in the form of “heroing”:
“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.”
Unfortunately fighting the inevitable future shifts seems like a fight against the arc of history. Like the longshoremen of old that were destroyed by containerisation, the inevitable automation of taxis is going to be painful, but surely will also be inevitable?