Uber Fail! Man has been waiting 12 years to be picked up by NASA Probe New Horizons

I don’t know if this is a glitch, but Uber was so buggy in the early days that one man has been waiting to be picked up for more than 12 years. A San Francisco local Tim Garrison downloaded the brand new app on his original iPhone back in 2009 to find a cheap way to meet his friends at the bar in the Castro district. Unfortunately for him, the closest available vehicle was NASA’s deep space probe New Horizons 65 light minutes away!

We’ve all been there, impatiently waiting for that Uber or Lyft to arrive, texting your friends at the bar that you’ll be there soon only to watch your driver get further and further away. Why did it get on the interstate? Why doesn’t it just turn around? How long is my driver going to be stuck at that light? This is the last time I let it share my ride. Tim Garrison has been experiencing this hell since 2009.

2009 Screen Shot of Tims Harrison Uber Ride

“When it calculated my drivers route it said to wait on the street in front of my apartment and that the estimated arrival time would be four years from now,” Tim complained. “I said to myself, I guess it’s still better than getting a Cab, boy was I wrong.” What Tim didn’t know was that the early version of Uber, called Ubercab, had a bug in calculating orbital models and did not realize that New Horizons had achieved an escape velocity of 50,000 mph after slingshotting around Jupiter.

Tim never made it to the bar that night. In fact he’s still waiting on the street watching the screen slowly update. “I keep refreshing the app to see if the probe’s turned around and headed my direction, but it keeps getting further and further away! My neighborhood is very hard to navigate so I guess New Horizons must have gotten lost somewhere looking for Dark Matter or some NASA science thing.”

San Francisco local Tim Garrison waiting for his Uber Driver
San Francisco local Tim Garrison waiting for his Uber Driver

Tim remained hopeful that the probe would turn around at Saturn, then Uranus, then Neptune, but the probe just kept getting further away from Earth. “Around the end of 2014 I got a little hopeful the probe was going to turn around. I guess it was going to pick somebody up at Pluto because it was getting really close. That’s the last time I agree to share a ride on this stupid app.”

After six years of waiting in the summer of 2015, the probe flew right by Pluto and kept going. There was no sign of New Horizons turning back to San Francisco to pick up Tim. Ever since then, Tim has still refused to cancel the ride and quit waiting. “If I cancel the ride then I don’t get a refund! I know it’s only 17.50 but it’s the principle of the matter,” he justified.

2014 Screen Shot of Tims Harrison Uber Ride before flying past Pluto
2014 Screen Shot of Tims Harrison Uber Ride before flying past Pluto

To this day, Tim has refused to give up his original iPhone just for the chance to finally get that ride. He doesn’t even get the app or phone software updates in case that cancels the ride. Some days he checks his phone every other hour. Some worse days, Tim watches the app for a minute every time he dies in temple runner. Even with battery replacements, he has to keep the phone charging or it might die and he would miss his ride.

After reaching out, NASA has refused to officially comment on why New Horizons won’t just cancel the ride. One inside source did come forward stating that it came down to politics. This was the only bug that made a NASA vehicle a driver on Uber and if it were to cancel the pick up, NASA could receive a sole negative rating on the app. There is no cost in keeping the ride going and everything to lose from a one, or even worse zero star review from Tim.

New Horizons image of 486958 Arrokoth
New Horizons image of 486958 Arrokoth

As far as we can tell, New Horizons has no intention of picking Tim up. After it flew by Pluto it’s been wasting time in the Kuiper belt taking pictures of asteroids like 486958 Arrokoth. It’s passed any large enough mass to slingshot the probe back to earth and doesn’t have enough fuel to turn around. While it’s a great deep space probe, I think it’s fair to say that New Horizons takes the prize for being the worst Uber driver ever.

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Published by B McGraw

B McGraw has lived a long and successful professional life as a software developer and researcher. After completing his BS in spaghetti coding at the department of the dark arts at Cranberry Lemon in 2005 he wasted no time in getting a masters in debugging by print statement in 2008 and obtaining his PhD with research in screwing up repos on Github in 2014. That's when he could finally get paid. In 2018 B McGraw finally made the big step of defaulting on his student loans and began advancing his career by adding his name on other people's research papers after finding one grammatical mistake in the Peer Review process.

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