Pokemon Go And Taxis: A Short-Lived Affair
Digital entertainment in the 21st century has not always been kind to taxis. A few decades ago, cab drivers would take young passengers to video game arcades in the afternoon and back home at night; these days, however, gamers are more likely to stay home with their favorite consoles.
A few years ago, Google acquired Niantic, a game development firm that specialized in augmented reality, which means that the real world was used as a backdrop for certain gaming elements. The first major Niantic title was Ingress, a sci-fi game that requires players to step out into the real world and explore landmarks with GPS-enabled smartphones.
In 2016, Niantic partnered with Nintendo to create Pokemon Go, another augmented reality game that requires players to leave the house and capture cute digital creatures that they must nurture and train for future battle. Things got a bit crazy with Pokemon Go, as some dedicated players would jump in their cars and drive around for the purpose of catching Pokemon. This dangerous practice has caused distracted driving accidents and even deaths in Japan, where Pokemon originated.
Taxis To The Rescue
In August, an enterprising taxi service in the United Kingdom introduced a safe Pokemon Go option: for less than $30, players were driven around the best Pokemon hunting spots around Manchester. In the beginning, the taxi service placed three cars on Pokemon duty; a few days later, 12 taxis were available to Pokemon players. The drivers were all properly trained in the ways of Pokemon Go so that they could chat with their passengers and even provide them with tips on how to play the game.
Unfortunately, the rising number of traffic accidents involving Pokemon Go and distracted drivers continued to climb, and thus Niantic and Nintendo decided to release an update that detects the traveling speed of players. If the speed is greater than 30 miles per hour, no Pokemon creatures appear in the smartphone display. In the past, the speed detection update would allow players to indicate that they were passengers, but that is no longer the case.
Unfortunately for the Manchester taxi service offering Pokemon tours, driving continuously at 30 miles per hour is not possible in all parts of the city. Prior to the inauspicious update, the British cab company had even considered decorating some of its cars with Pikachu, the adorable Pokemon mascot. Nonetheless, the taxi drivers who are skilled at Pokemon can still drive passengers directly to Pokemon Gyms and other secret spots they know about.