Uber and Walmart Roll Out Self-Driving VehiclesIt’s been a big week for our future robot overlords. They still have a long way to go before they overpower us and throw us in the “old-tech” bin, but tiny steps this week in Pittsburgh and at Walmart brought them that much closer to world domination. For right now, however, their prime directive is to move things around without killing anybody. In Pittsburgh, Uber released its first self-driving cars out on the streets of Steel City. The move comes as part of a push to move transportation into the future. However, don’t expect to see empty driver seats just yet. When you hail an Uber in Pittsburgh, the self-driving cars are still “piloted” by an individual.
Uber lays out its mission for driverless cars on its website:
Of course, we can’t predict exactly what the future will hold. But we know that self-driving Ubers have enormous potential to further our mission and improve society: reducing the number of traffic accidents, which today kill 1.3 million people a year; freeing up the 20 percent of space in cities currently used to park the world’s billion plus cars; and cutting congestion, which wastes trillions of hours every year.Now we only need to figure out what to do with millions of out-of-work cabbies! Hooray? Another nerd advancement is happening where you can buy 15 large sheet cakes for $12.95. Walmart is rolling out a new automated cart system where you can use your handheld device to summon an empty cart to your location in a store. Think of it like “Uber for shopping carts” or a “Roomba for a cartful of 99¢ DVDs.” From NBC News:
The customer's location is determined by optical sensors in the device which will receive information from smart LEDs in the store, NBC News reported. The system's "central control circuit" will also track shopping cart idle times to see which ones are not being used and implement image sensors to make sure they're empty.
The company says the carts will also be able to return themselves after use. While this is an eminently practical move by the company, not everyone will applaud. I used to love when my mom asked me to return our shopping cart, because I could pretend I was a badass race car driver. Kids' lives may have just become a little less dazzling.