Meet the Jetsons

Dianne St. Jean
Meet the Jetsons

Just this last week Boeing announced that it conducted a test flight for an autonomous air, or flying, taxi.

In the video it is shown hovering, and although it did not fly forward or for long, the test was considered a success.

And they aren’t the only ones. A number of companies, like Textron, are also working on designing a small, unmanned aircraft shuttle or taxi.

Let alone a flying, unmanned taxi, many people are still leery about a self-driving car on the ground, although the concept is becoming more familiar. Because of mishaps that occurred with some test models the industry is modifying and regulating, not only the technology, but also standards of operation.

I believe that people, in time, especially younger generations who are more daring and comfortable with computerized technology, will trust and use this mode of transportation, especially those who live in cities and suburbs.

Producers and lawmakers are working on ways to have these unmanned autos drive within their own special lanes as much as possible, which would decrease the likelihood of accidents. And, from a technological standpoint, imminent crashes are now more likely to trigger automatic stops.

With the cost of living going up in western societies and efforts to decrease the amount of vehicles on streets, this mode of transportation just might become attractive.

But never mind a vehicle that drives itself ... I recently was given an article about a new vehicle that not only reads traffic, but also the driver.

Let’s presume, the article says, that while you’re driving, the sensors throughout the vehicle detect a sudden change in your blood pressure, and that you appear to be shifting uncomfortably in your seat. You slightly veer off the center of your lane. For a number of reasons, the car senses that you are losing control, and it ‘thinks’ you are suffering an acute health crisis. It slows and steers itself onto the shoulder of the road, stops, and sends out a call for an ambulance.

Unbelievable you say? Well, we’re now on the brink of this becoming the norm, at least for those who are wealthy enough to afford it

Meet the Smart Car, with the ability to ‘read’ facial expressions and movements; its super cruise will work only when the driver is actively looking ahead. Its hands-free driving system uses driver-facing infrared cameras, lidar map data and high-precision GPS to navigate. They say that eventually this new technology will allow cars to ‘talk to each other’.

How many of you remember the Jetsons - the popular cartoon that seemed to embody everyone’s desires to have a life with technology that would makes things easy and automatic, requiring just a minimum of human effort?

As ideal as that appears to be, the truth is that there is a cost to convenience. So far at least, the more advanced the technology, the more pollution is produced. Developers of new technology are faced with the challenge to do it as ‘green’ as possible, yet so much of so-called modern technology, including computers, still requires the use of harsh and toxic chemicals and metals that either need to be mined, or recycled and retreated. Then there’s the affordability gap. In the real world, how many of us can actually afford to ride one of these?

That never seems to stop the drive in the human spirit. We continually envision and attempt to develop greater and greater things… the very reason why someone got the idea years ago to create a cartoon that showed things that are amazing and desirable, yet considered unrealistic and unachievable at the time.