Flying taxis and autonomous ride services ……, my old man would be turning in his grave wondering what the world is coming too, in fact I think if I were I dead, I’d be wondering too!
When I was a kid there was a cartoon series called ‘The Jetsons’ which aired in the mid sixties and was based around the futuristic lives of George and Jane Jetson, their daughter Judy, son Elroy and dog Astro. A robot maid Rosie did all the chores around their Skypad Apartment in Orbit City, while George who worked only one hour a day for two days a week, commuted to work in an aerocar with a transparent bubble top.
The series was supposedly set a century in the future, meaning about 2060, and I used to think will it really be like that; however I often wonder if we’re not already there.
For example, at the recent 2024 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Hyundai Motor Group’s air mobility division, Supernal released a prototype of its S-A2 electric five-seat ’urban’ aircraft with vertical take-off and landing capabilities, an eVTOL aircraft. They plan to sell the S-A2 to the market in 2028, which is when they believe the flight regulations etc will be finalised. That’s only four years away.
This wired.com article takes a closer look at the S-A2 as well as several other eVTOL’s that are also ready to go to market:
Fox Business was at this year’s CES in Las Vegas and filed this story which feature an interview with the President of Hyundai Motor Group and Supernal CEO Jaiwon Shin:
And to stir up more action in my father’s grave, I notice that a company in America is marketing an autonomous ride service, more affectionately known as a driverless taxi.
According to Waymo.com, they are ‘Making it safe and easy for people and things to get around — without the need for anyone in the driver’s seat.’
Formerly known as the ‘Google Self-Driving Car Project’, Waymo LLC is an American autonomous driving technology company headquartered in California whose parent company is Google.
Google’s development of self-driving technology began in January 2009 and after almost two years of road testing with seven vehicles, the New York Times revealed its existence in October 2010. Five years later Google announced that they can provide “the world’s first fully driverless ride on public roads”. Then another five years later in October 2020, after changing the company name to Waymo, they became the first company to offer services to the public without safety drivers in the vehicle.
Today after raising approximately US$5.5 billion in multiple outside funding rounds, Waymo now has partnerships with multiple vehicle manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar Land Rover, and Volvo, and currently operates commercial ‘robotaxi’ services in Phoenix, Arizona, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Austin, Texas.
Los Angeles television station KTLA 5 produced this report on Waymo early last year:
Now I know I’m a bit of a sceptic to this whole autonomous car thing and am not convinced they can make emotional decisions in emergencies like we unpredictable humans generally can, but then again, cut me some slack, remember that I grew up watching ‘The Jetsons’ and ‘The Flintstones’, 2060 was a lifetime away and there were jobs for taxi drivers.