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MIT Technology Review

Uber’s Ad-Toting Drones Are Heckling Drivers Stuck in Traffic

Forget billboards—motorists now have ads buzzing a few feet above their windshields.

October 14, 2016

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.

More on Uber and drones

  • Uber’s Bumpy Ride in China

    Chinese Uber drivers are making a million trips a day, pleasing consumers but threatening traditional taxi drivers.

  • Who Will Protect You from Drone Surveillance?

    The coming wave of commercial drones is already exposing gaps in today’s privacy laws.

  • Some U.S. Drones Are Getting Longer Leashes

    Allowing commercial drones to fly more than one nautical mile from their pilot would make them much more useful.

  • Uber’s Pittsburgh Project Is a Crucial Test for Self-Driving Cars

    The technology is being rapidly commercialized, though safety issues have yet to be settled.

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.

(Read more: Bloomberg, “With Its Sale in China, Uber Drives a Better Bargain”)