Advertising Drones Hover Over Traffic In Mexico

A new horror awaits us on America's roads - it's only a matter of time before our open borders allow this catastrophe to wash over us. In Mexico, drones carrying advertisements for Uber pester drivers stuck in traffic.

(Traffic drones in Mexico)

Drivers stuck in traffic in Mexico City lately have found themselves being buzzed by a fleet of sign-toting drones. “Driving by yourself?” some scolded in Spanish. “This is why you can never see the volcanoes”—a reference to the smog that often hovers over the mega-city and obscures two nearby peaks.

It wasn’t exactly a plea for environmentalism, though—it was an ad for UberPOOL, part of Uber’s big push into markets across Latin America. As Bloomberg points out, Uber already does more business in Mexico City than any other city it operates in, and Brazil is its third-largest market after the U.S. and India. Uber sees Latin American countries as generally easier targets for expansion than either of its top two markets.

In the wake of a costly war with Didi Chuxing in China that finally forced Uber to wave a white flag, the company is going back on the offensive. And that, apparently, involves accosting drivers in gridlock with a swarm of drones.

Thankfully, science fiction writers have predicted this disgusting development. We could have tried to avoid it, but at least sf readers have been able to prepare themselves mentally.

Jeff Noon, in his 2000 novel Nymphomation, describes the blurbfly:

The blurbs are the property of the AnnoDomino Co., invented to perpetuate their messages of luck and hope beyond the normal channels.

Blurbflies are allowd to travel the streets, buzzing their adverts alive and direct to the punters.

Blurbs shall stand for Bio-Logical-Ultra-Robotic-Broadcasting-System.

Only the company shall manufacture the blurbs. Other businesses or individuals may purchase blurbs from the Company, pre-loaded with messages and armed to the teeth, for the appropriate price.

I also have to give credit to the inimitable Philip K. Dick, who in his 1964 novel The Simulacra describes a very tiny drone called a "commercial fly" which describes the next logical step for traffic advertising drones (TADs):

Something sizzled to the right of him. A commercial, made by Theodorus Nitz, the worst house of all, had attached itself to his car.

"Get off," he warned it. But the commercial, well-adhered, began to crawl, buffeted by the wind, toward the door and the entrance crack. It would soon have squeezed in and would be haranguing him in the cranky, garbagey fashion of the Nitz advertisements.

He could, as it came through the crack, kill it. It was alive, terribly mortal: the ad agencies, like nature, squandered hordes of them.

The commercial, flysized, began to buzz out its message as soon as it managed to force entry. "Say! Haven't you sometimes said to yourself, I'll bet other people in restaurants can see me! And you're puzzled as to what to do about this serious, baffling problem of being conspicuous, especially-"

Chic crushed it with his foot.

You've been warned.

Via Technology Review.

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