NO SEX please, says Uber
But it will come (pun very much intended).
Uber continues its cowboy ways with its defiance of Californian regulations by setting loose its self-driving vehicles in San Francisco, without the required permits. But as it blatantly ignores rules, it is imposing its own by releasing a set of guidelines, which includes a “no sex” rule.
“As a reminder, Uber has a no sex rule. That’s no sexual conduct with drivers or fellow riders, no matter what (emphasis added).”
Of course the guidelines are meant to protect Uber drivers and passengers from unsolicited attention. A study on “Racial and Gender Discrimination in Transportation Network Companies” found that “drivers took female passengers for longer, more expensive, rides in Boston”. Female customers were driven on 5% longer trips (in distance) compared to males who travel from the same pick-up to drop-off locations, due to what the researchers speculate as “a combination of flirtation and profiteering”. Clearly there is cause for concern if you are a female rider, or driver for that matter.
Uber’s guidelines also advises against unwanted contact after the ride is over, whether with the driver or passenger. Such behaviour, amongst others, could cause riders to lose access to Uber, although the policy applies in the US only (why not worldwide?).
Well, Uber, rules are meant to be broken, as you have often demonstrated. Although the “no sex” rule is meant to encourage basic human decency and prevent sexual harassment, which is great, but there will be those who are willing participants. Sex in cars are predicted to be the road safety hazard of the future when vehicles can drive themselves, leaving passengers plenty of time on their hands to fill.
Right now, there are plenty of arguments against sex in cars, most of them premised on human drivers having to be on alert to take over in case the automated system fails and it takes too long for them to ‘decouple’. A recent case of an Uber self-driving car being caught running a red light and narrowly missing a pedestrian seems to prove the point. Uber, however, maintains that it was human error.
But self-driving technology will only get better. There will be a day when these arguments are no longer relevant and what would be the excuse for banning sex in cars then, except for puritanical ones? If we had the brains, we would start designing seat belts for two…in the horizontal position.