back to article Google patents ROBO-TAXIS to ferry punters into advertiser's shops, restaurants, etc for free

What's holding you back from online shopping? Not being to touch or test drive the thing you desire before splashing the cash? What if someone were to drive you to the store, dealership or wherever, to seal the deal for free? Great idea, huh? Well, Google just patented it. The web ad kingpin, which designs self-driving cars …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have Google ever thought that we, or at least most of us, DON'T want to be driven round in a Robo Car? Let the techie none drivers have them, but I want to have control. I want to have the right to speed, crash, run over cats and generally be obnoxious not giving way and giving the finger to the other as@eholes on the road.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      At least you had the honesty...

      ...of writing "the other as@eholes on the the road"!

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: At least you had the honesty...

        Nah, he probably drives an Audi Q whatever.

        Especially that 63 plate black Q5 that tail-ended me on the A3 as Tolworth last week. The driver complained that her child was kicking the back of her seat and that she couldn't see me. I was driving a WHITE Transit van that had just been washed. Plod was not impressed. Now were the rental company that supplied me the transit.

        Skoda drivers wish they were driving a VW

        VW drivers would rather be driving an Audi

        Audi owners cry becuse they can't afford a Porsche

        Porsche owners would rather be pushing up the daisies than be seen driving anything else.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: At least you had the honesty...

          And people driving a Renault wish they would be driving an actual car? :)

          (Note that the brands you mentioned are all the same company, btw)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Speak for yourself

      I enjoy driving, but I'd happily give that up for being able to be driven around by a computer that does it more safely, and allows me to do whatever I want.

      No reason to deal with the hassle of airports for flights under 1000 miles if it were possible to have my car take me an overnight trip while I sleep (in a lie flat seat) surf the internet, watch recorded programs I transferred from my home DVR, or whatever.

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      I want a robo car. Time spend commuting could be better used for anything else. I could get work done instead of wasting time on travel. Driving is an inconvenience that happens to be slightly less inconvenient than mass transit. I'd pay good money to own a robo car.

  2. frank ly

    And if you don't sign a purchase agreement

    .. you pay your own fare back.

  3. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    "I am Jonny cab."

    Yay, the future is here.

    Although like all cab ETA's "Be there in 5 minuted" turned out to be a bit optimistic.

    Seriously it never gets tired what BS the USPTO will dish out a patent to.

  4. solo

    Prior art

    In many travel destinations, cab drivers from airport and railway stations pickup tourist and suggest (sometimes force) hotels to them. They observe the cloths and attitude of the tourist in suggesting suitable hotels. In return the receiving hotel gives them commission.

    So, the only unique point in Google's patent is making it free. We just patented "giving away freebies".

    1. lglethal Silver badge

      Re: Prior art

      I was just thinking that. How is this a patentable idea? It's just that an idea. There are no robo taxis able to do the job (nor will there be in the near future) and the patent doesnt seem to be covering the design and building of robo taxis. All this is seemingly patenting is a business idea, which I honestly didnt think was patentable?

      Does the USPTO even look at the patents they're rubbing stamping these days?

    2. Tromos

      Re: Prior art

      Making it free isn't new either. About 20 years ago on the Greek Island of Poros, I got a free ride in a speedboat taxi to a nice fish taverna down the coast. Pleasantly surprised to get a free ride back after the meal too.

  5. Fihart

    Not content with hijacking the internet.

    Google is planning to kidnap and transport you to the shopping mall.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Urgency of the patent

    Does someone know if there is an expiration date on such patents? That may give a hint when we might be seeing those freeholes.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    patented what?

    a title is required...

  8. Sanctimonious Prick


    Oh dear. A patent on this? Seriously?

    Here's an idea, patent the unsubscribe function.

    Google, you're loosing me.

    1. mrjobby

      Re: Patents

      "Google, you're loosing me."

      As in letting you run out into the wilds?

  9. Denarius Silver badge

    this could be fun...

    just live more than 20 KM out of any large town/city/mega-hellhole and see what ridiculous offers one gets. I love it when the big G and other "services" think I live somewhere near the NAT+proxy exit to a network backbone. Usually over 3 digits distance away. No details, the spooks can work it out for them selves :-) Oh, and all my devices have no GPS or it is off except when I need it.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: this could be fun...

      "the big G and other "services" think I live somewhere near the NAT+proxy exit"

      Or if, like me, you live next to a honking big river and all the "find near me..." services think the places a few hundred yds across the river are my "nearest" when it's actually a 15 mile drive via the bridge or a 10 mile drive via the toll tunnel. (or 2-3 miles in another direction not crossing the river at all.)

  10. mIRCat

    Stop me if this sounds familiar.

    In Soviet Google, advertisers dr...

    What do you mean you've heard it before?

  11. Graham Marsden

    Ok, cab, take me to X shop...

    ... Oh you don't want to go there, Y shop is paying us more to get you to go there instead...

    1. VinceH

      Re: Ok, cab, take me to X shop...

      "... Oh you don't want to go there, Y shop is paying us more to get you to go there instead..."

      Well, the article says:

      "The rubber-stamped technology factors ... whether a competitor will pay more to take the customer elsewhere"

      So, yup.

  12. Micky 1

    I really don't see how they could have been awarded this patent. It's such an obvious idea that there's been prior art all over the interwebs and movies for years. But then again I wouldn't know for sure, I've never even BEEN to mars.

    1. VinceH

      They got the idea from the police.

      You know how they sometimes offer people free bed and board for the night, along with a free taxi to get there.

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  14. MooseNC


    I have a patent for opening vehicle doors with the intent to get in them and be taken to locations that sell electronic items.

    I'm seeking $500 billion in damages.

    I will not have my innovation stifled!!!

  15. User McUser

    Pointless and Easily Abused

    Just find a gullible innovative business nearby your real destination and you're good to go.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A sponsored car?

    So while I'm driven to the shop "for free" I'm bombarded with constant advertising I can't turn off? The equivalent of a "click" for this is speaking up and telling the car "yes, I would like to take a detour to Frank's Flower Shoppe to pick up the dozen roses on special for $9.99!"

    I think I'd rather own my own self driving car so I can tell it where I want to go and be driven in peace and quiet if I so choose...

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A sponsored car?

      "I think I'd rather own my own self driving car so I can tell it where I want to go and be driven in peace and quiet if I so choose..." 3 to 4x the price of a "branded" car? Just look at mobile phones for the route (pun intended) robo cars will go.

  17. Craig 28

    My understanding of the US patent system, at least from what I've heard, is you can patent anything and if it isn't valid it's up to competitors to challenge it. This is of course ridiculous since companies such as Google have the funds to tie things up in court with high priced lawyers.

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