June 2016

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Image by Chief Design Officer Daniel Simon / Roborace Ltd.Once Upon a Time

There was a time when if you fancied a nice juicy steak, you would pick up your pointed stick, murder a wildebeest, rub bits of wood together to start a fire, roast and tuck in. This was normal behaviour for millions of years. These days we simply point to a menu and a juicy steak arrives.

Normal behaviour changes. Nowadays we drive our cars. One day we will be driven by a computer. Self-driving cars are currently on test on a street near you. The amount of control varies. We already have self-parking, collision avoidance, and steering assistance where the driver still needs to be overseeing the actions of the computer. Gradually more and more self-driving features will enter the equation. Eventually whenever we need to travel, a driverless ‘pod’ will arrive and deliver us safely to our destination. We will no longer own cars that currently kill 1.25 million people per year. We will be amazed that once upon a time we actually owned cars, and even more shocking, we had absolute control of them.

Motorsport will also change. The first motor races were on public roads in the late 1800s. The first purpose built race track was Brooklands in the UK, which opened in 1907. Apart from the engineering and accident statistics, motor racing has not changed much. This beggars the question that when road-going vehicles are all state-owned, state-controlled pods, what will happen to motor racing? For now, Formula E electric race cars pacify the ‘greens’, and no doubt hydrogen race cars should do the same. Will there be driverless racing cars? Of course not, I hear you say. Well…, a concept race car already exists (picture above). It is called Robocar and is for a race series to follow Formula E. This will not be a car controlled by someone with a joystick. It will think for itself.

Unlike current computers, pods will not crash. We will be transported with no seat belts or airbags, and with the internal décor of a hotel lobby.  If the idea sounds egalitarian and utopian to the point of some impossible communist fantasy, fear not. Just as jet planes have three classes, so could pods. You may even have a pod-robot serve you a juicy steak in your gold-plated, diamond-studded, upper-class pod, whilst watching driverless race cars on the 3D hologram pod-screen. We will be living in a perfect world. Oh what fun….