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Compliance In The Wild: Valet Parking Robot Edition

A police robot moving an illegally parked car to a legal spot? It's a ๐—–๐—ผ๐—บ๐—ฝ๐—น๐—ถ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ ๐—œ๐—ป ๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ช๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฑ case study!๐Ÿ‘‡

In most cities, if you park your car illegally, you can expect to receive a fine. More serious infringements can result in the vehicle being towed.

A video on social media โ€” that I can't verify, but let's pretend it's real โ€” purports to show the police in China adopting a different approach. A BMW that is 'illegally parked' is moved to a legal parking spot using a valet robot.

๐—ฉ๐—ฎ๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜ ๐—ฃ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ธ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด?

On the face of it, it's a good use of police time. Rather than waiting for a tow truck, officers can move the car to somewhere it won't be in the way.

But that's not the entire problem solved. Because you also want to deter people from parking illegally in the first place. If the punishment for illegally parking is that the police valet park your car, then it could actually encourage it. Unlike towing cars, where the owner has the hassle of going to collect it, this makes life easier for them.

To incentivise compliance, they're going to need to do something else. As UX guru & author of the highly recommended book '๐—ง๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—›๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—˜๐˜…๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ถ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐—ฐ๐—ฒ', John Sills mused on seeing the video, "๐˜”๐˜ข๐˜บ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ช๐˜ต ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ช๐˜ต, ๐˜ต๐˜ฐ ๐˜ณ๐˜ฆ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฐ๐˜ท๐˜ฆ ๐˜ข๐˜ฏ ๐˜ช๐˜ด๐˜ด๐˜ถ๐˜ฆ, ๐˜ฃ๐˜ถ๐˜ต ๐˜ข๐˜ญ๐˜ด๐˜ฐ ๐˜จ๐˜ช๐˜ท๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ข ๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ?"

๐—” ๐—ณ๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ฒ ๐—ถ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ ๐—ณ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ

The challenge with fines is where to set them.

In my book '๐—›๐˜‚๐—บ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ถ๐˜‡๐—ถ๐—ป๐—ด ๐—ฅ๐˜‚๐—น๐—ฒ๐˜€' (read the first few chapters for free at, I highlight situations when '๐˜ข ๐˜ง๐˜ช๐˜ฏ๐˜ฆ ๐˜ฃ๐˜ฆ๐˜ค๐˜ฐ๐˜ฎ๐˜ฆ๐˜ด ๐˜ข ๐˜ง๐˜ฆ๐˜ฆ'. That's when the convenience of being able to do what you want outweighs the cost of a fine if you break a rule.

There's a famous study in a daycare centre where fines designed to deter parents from turning up late to collect their kids encouraged it by effectively offering cheap childcare. What was supposed to be a fine became a fee.

Of course, the point where that fee becomes too expensive will not be the same for everyone. Which is why some countries set fines for motoring offences by reference to the person's income.

๐—ข๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ๐—ฟ ๐˜๐—ฒ๐—ฐ๐—ต๐—ป๐—ถ๐—พ๐˜‚๐—ฒ๐˜€ ๐—ฎ๐—ฟ๐—ฒ ๐—ฎ๐˜ƒ๐—ฎ๐—ถ๐—น๐—ฎ๐—ฏ๐—น๐—ฒ

What's important to note is that Compliance isn't just a case of writing rules. If we want to be effective, we need to think about how the people whose behaviour we're trying to influence will respond.

Not, as I share in my book, how we would ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ them to respond, but rather how they are ๐˜ญ๐˜ช๐˜ฌ๐˜ฆ๐˜ญ๐˜บ to respond.

Before we deploy robots, we need to understand humans.

In a future CITW post, I'll share how another behavioural dynamic is deployed to encourage motorists to comply with rules.

Source: Pareekhjain via Rainmaker1973 on Twitter.

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