Recently a friend returned from visit to farm in Queensland and sat with his cousin in the cab of a GPS-driven tractor plowing the endless fields Down Under. Operator intervention was still required to turn it around when it reached the end of a furrow. But Case says really driverless farm vehicles are just around the corner.
Recently, Aviation Week had a story on DARPA’s efforts to develop a flying car. Not just an ungainly half-car, half-airplane but a real one, just like the Jetson’s.
“DARPA doesn’t want a two-seat light sport aircraft that can toddle down the road but needs a runway to take off and land on. It wants a scout/transport vehicle that can carry 2-4 people, drive at speeds up to 60mph, take off and land vertically from unprepared surfaces, and fly for 2 hours at airspeeds up to 150mph. It wants a vehicle that can be driven manually, but flown automatically – “with manual flight control units that can override the fully automatic system”.
Impossible? Well maybe not.
If there’s any silver lining to the current economic downturn it may be that, with lawyers out of work or temporaily out of fashion, necessity can again be the mother of invention. It’s interesting to speculate whether someone, now out of work, is conceiving the next big thing.