Taxi of Tomorrow
" made its debut this week at the New York International Auto
The new taxi, built by Nissan and called the NV200, will
gradually replace the 13,000 or so battered Ford Crown Victorias,
hybrid Toyota Priuses and Ford Escapes and occasional rogue
minivans that rack up an average of 70,000 miles a year on the
city's mean streets. (See "
Traffic tips from New York cabbies
The NV200 deploys a lot of new ideas and technology to solve
problems that are very taxi-specific: Anti-microbial interior
upholstery, for example, makes a lot of sense if you're picking up
20,000-plus fares a year. A transparent roof pleases the tourists.
USB and 12-volt plug-ins please the businessmen. Sliding doors
eliminate "dooring" of bicyclists and passing cars, the city taxi
commission says. For the first time, passenger airbags work around
the partition separating cabbie and customer.
Yet there are ideas too good to restrict to 24 square miles in
Manhattan, like the glowing light atop the NV200. Part of the light
is simply an in-service indicator. The other is wired to the "low
annoyance" horn (described by
The New York Times
as "a mournful trumpet blast … deep but not jarring, loud but not
Brilliant! Now, at a jammed intersection populated almost
exclusively by identical yellow NV200s, you'll be able to spot the
yahoo spoiling cocktail hour.
Yet strapped to the roofs of workaday sedans and SUVs, that
light holds the potential for a whole new means of communication
with your fellow drivers.
- What if it sensed your
signal and lit up a bright yellow when you were on the
- Or, wired to your accelerator-pedal and brake inputs,
reflected your mood?
- An "I don't use turn signals" light, comparing your use of
indicators with actual turns taken.
- Student driver. Teen driver. Elderly driver. Robot
- Three words: Facebook status updates.
At 70 mph, a "single" light atop your car could redefine speed