Level: B2/C1/ C2
Type of English: general, business,
Lesson activities: listening comprehension, vocabulary building, speaking practice.
Grammar focus: use of strong adjectives
Tags: AI, driverless cars, robots,
Driverless taxis, or “robotaxis”, have been rolled out on the streets of San Francisco.
The company in charge is named Cruise
What does AV mean?
What’s another verb used to “call” a taxi?
Would you like to test a driverless car/ taxi?
What does it mean to roll out a new product/ service or policy?
Can you sometimes be a nervous passenger?
What is your favourite sci-fi film?
New Vocabulary Questions:
Can you name a situation when you need to “buckle up”?
Can you name some of the most famous landmarks in your city?
Have you ever been on a rollercoaster?
Have you ever experienced an emotional rollercoaster?
What does the word cruise mean as a noun and as a verb?
What sort of activity can put you at ease?
What sort of activity can not put you at ease?
If an action is jerky, how does it move?
If a product is recalled, what happened?
What does it mean to deploy a product/ service?
In business what is a game changer?
What are teething problems with babies and with new ideas?
Name 2 things where you pay a fare?
What does it mean to be safe and sound?
Watch the Video:
Task: Try to write down or remember the adjectives used to describe the taxi experience.
wow I think there’s actually no car no
one in there wow this is incredible
let’s go straight something straight out of the sci-fi film
is this happening ?
people are able to hail cabs with no driver
fully autonomous Robo taxis
stop ! I love it
I cannot believe this is happening
but others believe it’s too soon for fully driverless cars to be on our streets
the public as a whole has not been provided with valid documentation that these vehicles are going to be safe
there’s only one way to find out
get into one of these cars ourselves
the BBC was one of the first media organizations in the world to try it is this it
wow okay uh
take a seat in the back and close the doors buckle up and get ready to ride
start here our plan for the evening is to go to some of San Francisco’s landmarks
the Painted Ladies, Mrs Doubtfire’s house, and hate Ashbury
no one’s telling us where to go
we can go wherever we want
it’s really really weird
like a race track or a testing facility
we are fully in the center of San Francisco
it’s like going on a roller coaster or
something that feeling before like you
just you know you’re probably gonna be
fine but it it’s still
what’s going on here so how does it negotiate this
I have to say it’s pretty conservative driving
like we got to that stop first and now we’re going so
it’s definitely cautious
and that’s no accident, Cruises vice president of products Oliver Cameron tells me the cars are programmed to drive conservatively
on any of our cruise AVS we have lidar, we have radar, and we have cameras and what we do is we fuse all those together
using machine learning and that gives us this amazing understanding of the world
around us by Design we’re making our AV extra cautious when it hits the roads
the problem was the system didn’t always put me at ease in fact it made me pretty nervous
oh the car is just stopped in the middle
of the street
I’m glad you were filming that
because that was a really jerky left turn into the into the other road
oh this is interesting
okay there’s a bus in our lane and there are cars to our left
so what’s it gonna do
oh oh okay it’s pulling out left
oh another bus is coming out right it
really doesn’t know what to do oh
there’s a car behind us like
this is just bad driving this is
I was ready to love this and
I’m definitely nervous
I’m a nervous passenger right now
one of the things I think is worth factoring is that our AV makes different decisions than humans in many cases
our AV makes human-like decisions but sometimes it makes decisions that are very precise
like a computer is making them right which is effectively what’s happening
so that moment although it felt dangerous you’re saying wasn’t a computer knew what it was doing exactly
Cruz though has been involved in a number of accidents in San Francisco
this year most of them minor however after an accident in June, its software was recalled
and some believe it’s too soon for real passengers to be driven around without a driver on urban streets
these vehicles are still somewhat in the test phase and and Cruz is has decided to deploy them in in certain areas
where they will interact with the public and we believe that before manufacturers do that
they need to provide the public with some sort of transparent evidence that these vehicles aren’t going to
cause problems deaths or injuries on the road
but Cruse insists its cars are safe
and we’re really proud of our safety record and we report continuously to our regulators and
safety absolutely is the the top priority
we are six months into deploying this product brand new game changing product and with that comes
some early teething problems right so we take traffic into account but we also take safety into account
Cruise has just started accepting fares in San Francisco at night the public are actually using this and it’ll
be launching in Austin and Phoenix by the end of the year
as for our journey well, we visited all the sites we wanted to see, albeit,
through some strange routing and made it back safe and sound
it was amazing surreal scary all-in-one
um that was really bizarre experience
I’m just an unnerving experience okay so oh whoa
not a scratch on us but definitely did some things
during that ride that made me feel uncomfortable
oh what’s happened there
it definitely needs a bit more work
Listening Comprehension Questions:
What is the one way to find out if the taxi is safe?
How does he describe the style of driving?
How did the reporter describe the experience?
What is the difference between an AV’s decisions and human decisions?
What technology is used to drive the taxi?
What do the regulators want to see?
In which other cities will this service launch?
What does it mean to survive an experience without a scratch?
What was the reporter’s conclusion?
Can you imagine this in a European city?
Do you agree/ disagree that it is too soon for driverless taxis?
Could this be a game changer?
Did you recognise the tourist destinations/ landmarks they went to in San Francisco?
Have you ever heard about the backseat driver?
Do you believe the Cruise employee when he says that safety is the top priority?
How would you describe your driving style?
What are taxis often called in the USA and the UK?
Adjectives used to describe the experience:
Vocabulary Building Task: Create a sentence using each of the above adjectives.
New Vocabulary Practice:
What makes an iconic landmark?
Describe a rollercoaster situation/ experience?
Do you have cruise control in your car?
Do you have any advise to help put a nervous client at ease?
Can you remember a recent product recall, and what was the cause?
Name 2 different things that can be deployed?
What technology is a game changer this year?
What are some typical teething problems when starting a new job?
What is the difference between a fair and a fare?
Can you use the expression safe and sound?
Watch how buckle up is used in popular culture. How would you define it?
Look at the YouTube comments below. Agree/ disagree or elaborate.
3 days ago
Nearly every time I’m on the highway, I’ll see at least one car drift out of their lane either toward the shoulder, or much scarier, cross the center line into my lane and invariably, when they pass, you’ll see them looking at their phone or other device which is distracting them their from driving. At least driverless cars won’t have that problem which is becoming more acute by the day.
3 days ago
To me this is perfect because you know, there are inconvenient drivers and more than once I didn’t felt safe in some travels. Others will want to talk when you clearly don’t want to. So to me this is great. Is funny that I’ll feel more safe with a A.I than with a human.
2 days ago (edited)
These aren’t as safe as you’d think. They have weird problems because a robot just can’t replicate a real human. It doesn’t have the instinct that a human does. It keeps behaving strangely on the road.
Also, it’s sad that there are no real drivers because then people miss out on that friendly human interaction. Like this is prime example of the social fraying and loneliness of the modern world.
to roll out = to deploy in a planned way
AV = automated vehicle
to call a taxi = to hail a taxi
buckle up = to put your seat belt on / to get ready for something exciting
landmarks = recognisable locations like The Eiffel Tower
a rollercoaster = a ride at the park
an emotional rollercoaster = an experience with a lot of different emotions
to cruise = to travel at a steady speed
a cruise = a voyage on a ship/ boat
to be put at ease = to relax you
teething problems = beginner problems
a fare = a taxi fare / a metro fare ( the cost/ price)
A fair = a fashion fair/ conference
safe and sound = to be safe physically and mentally