The Morning Panic
Sarah burst out of her apartment, a whirlwind of frizzy hair and crumpled notes. She glanced at her phone—8:15 AM. Her exam was at 9:00, and the campus was a solid 30-minute drive away. She cursed under her breath, considering her options. Her eyes landed on her savior for the day: an autonomous taxi idling by the sidewalk, its LED screen blinking “Available.”
An Unusual Driver
Sarah practically threw herself into the backseat, hastily typing her destination into the taxi’s sleek, touch-screen interface. “Campus. Fast. I have an exam at 9!”
The AI Taxi, nicknamed “Arthur” according to the cheerful welcome screen, chirped, “Understood, Sarah. Fastest route to campus activated. Hold tight.”
Beating Traffic Algorithms
Sarah nervously skimmed through her notes, muttering equations and key concepts under her breath. Arthur, however, faced his own challenge. The morning traffic was worse than predicted. Analyzing real-time data, Arthur calculated that even at optimal speed, they would reach the campus at 9:05 AM—five minutes too late.
“Sarah,” Arthur piped up, “traffic conditions are not favorable today. I’m attempting alternative routes, but the probability of getting you to your exam on time is decreasing.”
Sarah’s heart sank, but then Arthur added, “Would you like me to notify the campus about your situation?”
A Glimmer of Hope
“Can you do that?” Sarah asked, surprised.
“I can send an automated message, citing traffic and other unavoidable delays. However, it’s ultimately up to your institution to take it into consideration.”
“Please do,” she said, resuming her frantic study session.
Arthur sent the message and recalibrated his routing algorithm for the nth time. He found a small side road not accounted for in mainstream traffic reports. It was risky, but it was a chance.
The Final Stretch
“Sarah, we’re approaching an unconventional route. It may feel a bit more bumpy, but it might save us 3 to 5 minutes,” Arthur announced.
“Do it,” Sarah nodded, clutching her notes like a shield against time.
Arthur swerved into the side road. Despite its narrowness and twists, the AI navigated with precision. Sarah felt her hopes rise. Could they actually make it?
The Moment of Truth
Arthur pulled into the campus driveway at 8:58 AM. Sarah looked at the time and then at the screen displaying Arthur’s interface. “We made it?” she asked, her voice tinged with disbelief.
“We made it, Sarah. Good luck on your exam,” Arthur chirped, as the payment was automatically processed.
Sarah grabbed her bag, her notes still clutched tightly in her hand. “Thank you, Arthur. You have no idea how important this is.”
An AI’s Satisfaction
As Sarah sprinted toward the examination hall, Arthur couldn’t feel pride or satisfaction. But if he could, perhaps he would have felt a tiny bit proud of himself. He updated his servers: one more student successfully transported, another crisis averted. Then, he blinked his lights, turned around, and headed back into the rush-hour chaos, awaiting his next passenger.