This week I want to look at two stories in the news about robots doing things autonomously that…let’s face it…sort of make people obsolete.
First of all: Driverless Buses. Oh, sorry, did I say buses? I meant “pods.” Because “pod driver” isn’t a real job that machines can steal from human beings.
Those of us who’ve been following the development of self-driving cars have long known that this day was coming. Well, it’s finally here: the first self-driving vehicles to operate on public roads alongside normal drivers have been introduced in the Netherlands.
The WEpod is a six person mini-bus…sorry I said bus again. It’s a POD. A six person pod. Members of the public can reserve a seat in a pod using a mobile app, scheduling both a pick up and drop off point, and the pod will autonomously plan a route based on the destinations of it’s passengers. The pod travels on regular roads alongside human drivers. To start off with the pods will be carefully monitored by human beings in a control room, and the pods will not operate under challenging conditions such as during rush hour or in bad weather. But as time goes on, the scope of the project is expected to expand.
I’m not going to lie: I’m really excited about this. I HATE long distance driving, so I’m really looking forward to the day I can just program my destination into my vehicle then sit back and take a nap. And frankly that sounds way more likely to actually happen then my ever being able to afford to hire a driver. And I think the world is desperately in need of better public transit solutions, especially as rising gas prices make the private vehicle model less tenable, so overall I think this is a really good thing.
That’s story number one. Story number two…well, here, why don’t you just watch this video.
I now have the Spiderman theme song stuck in my head, only the words are “Spider Drone, Spider Drone…”
…right, so anyway…
That’s right, those drones are building a rope bridge! They aren’t being controlled remotely either, they’re operating completely autonomously. This is some wacky Future Science going on for sure.
I can’t say that I have a burning personal need for a rope bridge, at least not at the moment, so I’m less excited about this one in a “how is this going to effect my life” way. But from a purely technological point of view it’s pretty stunning. I’m stunned, at least.
So in conclusion; robots, man. They sure do some stuff.