Tesla rolled out their autopilot feature this month, and it seems a sure bet we're headed towards a future filled with driverless cars. But Yamaha's working on an alternative: Robot-driven cars. The company's thinking is that for driverless cars to become pervasive, well, everyone must purchase one. Rather than making the millions of cars already on the road obsolete, Yamaha thinks you should just get a humanoid robot to drive your car for you.
They've started down this road by producing Motobot, which apparently can drive one of their motorcycles, though they sure don't show the thing getting on and off:
So let's assume Yamaha takes the next step and creates a 'bot that can actually drive a car. The all-important factor they haven't explained is what you do with the robot when he's not driving:
- After he drops you off at the bar, does he stomp off to find and kill John Connor, or does he hang out in the car listening to the radio?
- If I run into four friends when I'm out and want to give all of them a ride, do I kick the robot out and make him walk home?
- To free up space, does he fold up and fit in the trunk, or can I tow him from the back like he's water skiing?
- And do I want this metal creep sitting next to me all day when I'm stuck in traffic?
For their part, Yamaha is making no bones about this robot's self-awareness and eventual desired position in the food chain. Listen to it narrate its own Prime Directives, which were clearly not written by Isaac Asimov:
How creepy is that last bit, where he goes "I am Motobot. I was created to surpass you." You're going to surpass me, tough guy? I'd like to see you navigate a McDonald's drive-through without crushing the french fries in your lousy metal mitts.
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I dont know about other, but i can surely replace delivery boys.
I suspect this is one way people will start to warm to the idea of automated vehicles. "If a robot can safely win 150+ MPH races, it can drive me an hour to work every day."