Conceptual Taxi System Puts Civility Back in Urban Transport

When summoning a taxi in a busy urban center, waiting for a driver who is available, paying attention and willing to pick you up can get frustrating…not to mention the annoying “upstreamers” just waiting to snag that ride before you. This curbside taxi communication system was created by a group of design students at the Xi’an University of Design and Technology and recently won the Red Dot Award for a public space concept. It uses a system of lights, tactile curbside buttons and driver interaction to make hailing a taxi quick and easy.

When a customer needs a cab, they just step onto the pressure-sensitive plate on the curb. The damage-resistant transparent top layer fits over a polypropylene lower layer that is equipped with a color-changing light. When the station is idle, the light is blue (it turns off during daylight hours to save energy). After a passenger stands on the plate for ten seconds, his location information is sent to the nearest taxi. When a driver accepts the fare and begins to travel over to the passenger, the light changes to green. The system seems like an altogether civilized way to summon a taxi, but it would have to be limited to those cities without mischief-loving citizens who would activate the plates just for fun.

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See more in Mass Transit or under Transportation. December, 2011.