If you’ve ever wished that a Ross Dress For Less could move at 70 mph, your prayers might soon be answered. I’ve found, through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, that General Motors’ Cruise autonomous vehicle division has successfully patented a way to turn its robotaxis into fitting rooms, so you can try on clothes while being shuttled around.
On the face of things, Cruise seems intent on turning its autonomous vehicles into giant mobile vending machines controlled through an app, presenting you with a variety of clothes and then automatically charging your ride-hailing account if any are taken after you exit the vehicle. Think of it a bit like Amazon’s grocery store with no front-facing staff, except for novelty T-shirts and those propeller hats that people in cartoons wear. Cruise pitches these mobile fitting rooms as an alternative to online shopping, where you can actually try on clothing to check fit and aren’t burdened with cumbersome return policies. Yep, Cruise has invented the store. Good job, Cruise.
However, brick-and-mortar stores typically don’t move, so GM’s needed to get clever in providing privacy to riders searching for clothes. Expect side glass made of the variable-tint electrochromic glass seen in the sunroofs of high-end cars, along with automatic disabling of rider monitoring cameras to maintain privacy. In addition, it seems like that in most cases, Cruise vehicles won’t just so happen to have a wide array of clothes on deck. Users will be able to order clothes to try on through an app, then a Cruise AV will collect those clothes from a local retailer and deliver them to you. Still, trying on the clothes happens in the vehicle.
What’s more, this mobile fitting room idea goes way, way further than just a set of variable-tint windows. As the patent states, “According to some implementations, providing an environment for trying the order further comprises providing at least one of a mirror, an outlet, a table, a desk, and a bed.” You already know what the hell’s going on.
There’s no way around it, people will absolutely get sexual inside these autonomous vehicle fitting rooms. In the words of Jason, “I would never buy an AV I couldn’t wank in EVER.” More importantly, these Cruise AVs could act as a third space of sorts. As reported by USA Today, 47 percent of young adults still lived with their parents before COVID-19 lockdowns were even considered in America. Hooking up at home is risky and with the cost of car ownership being so high, it’s often hard for young people to get some privacy.
With ultra-dark tints and a potential bed, this concept redefines road head and brings up some particularly sticky questions. How often will these autonomous vehicles be cleaned? What do you do if the autonomous ride-hailing vehicle you step into is stained with semen or lightly squirted in? What happens to a user’s account if a Cruise employee finds pornography filmed in a ride-hailing vehicle? Will any Cruise employees admit to seeing pornography filmed in a corporate vehicle?
More importantly, how does even the simple act of changing comply with laws against nudity in vehicles? Presumably, nobody would be able to see in, but it’s a very grey area. Imagine being put on a registry because you saw a nice-looking top on an in-vehicle menu, the windows went dark, and police thought this would be a perfect opportunity to throw on the blues-and-twos.
Then there’s the space-efficiency aspect of all this bringing stores to you business. A single delivery van takes up about one van-length on the road depending on how the driver feels about their bumpers and can bring clothes to dozens of people. A single autonomous vehicle still takes up considerable space on the road but through this scheme, may only bring clothes to a single person. Imagine the commuting hell that could result from this program when a fresh pair of leggings goes viral.
While there are still many questions around Cruise’s implementation of mobile changing rooms, one thing’s for certain: The age of autonomy will offer the human race entirely new ways to bone. It could even blur the lines between FakeTaxi and a real taxi. Whether or not it will actually be more convenient than Amazon still needs to be seen, but it’s certainly a no-brainer way of monetizing autonomous vehicles.
[Editor’s Note: It’s worth noting that people have been boning in cars from the get-go. Honda even made a car with this sort of thing as the whole point! – JT]
(Photo credits: Cruise, USPTO)
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