With the news of London Taxi firm Addison Lee announcing their plans to introduce autonomous cars on the road of Britain by 2021, I thought I would discuss some examples of automation being used in life today.
Supermarket self-checkout systems have been around since the early 1990’s, but became more widespread in the early 2000’s.
Whilst initially met with immense scepticism, these checkouts are now the norm in almost every supermarket worth its salt.
In fact, modern shops have taken this to a new level, introducing “scan-as-you-shop” systems allowing customers to scan their shopping as they make their way around the store, and pay with minimal time at a kiosk before leaving.
Of course, Amazon looks to be not only entering this space but fundamentally challenging what is seen as a grocery store. From personnel to stock.
Self service checkouts take up less space, cost less, and are more efficient than their human ran counterparts.
Robotic Vacuum Cleaners & Lawn Mowers
Robotics and automation have made their way into the home care market, and with the prices dropping year on year this is becoming more and more accessible. These technologies are available and massively benefit the user.
So you no longer have to push around a loud, vibrating, machine to make your house look presentable. This isn’t a major task for the everyday user.
However, for someone with back difficulties – or just someone with a busy schedule – this technology is truly useful.
Ever since coffee machines have entered the home market, producers have been trying to add technology to them in the most useful way possible.
Whether it’s a simple digital timer on a filter coffee machine or built in Amazon Alexa automatically re-ordering your favourite ground bean blend before you run out, technology will always be applied when it comes to making the perfect brew.
John Lewis now sells a coffee machine with a touchscreen, where you place the beans and milk in, tell it what type of coffee you want and how big your mug is, and off it goes, constructing the perfect cup of coffee you might have paid £4 for at your local café.
German Gym Equipment company Milon offer a range of smart training machines.
These machines are operated by first inserting your profile card, which tells the machine who you are and automatically sets itself to the right position and amount of resistance.
During the exercise the screen guides the speed of your motion by a gauge on which you must keep the pin in the centre green space and if you move too fast or too slow it will fall into the outer red space.
Could this replace the need to a personal trainer to be watching and critiquing your every move? Time will tell whether Gyms around the world adopt this new technology, but for now it is still what could be termed an emerging market.
The competition to have the first commercially available self-driving car is between companies today, what the space race was between global powers.
Whilst manufacturers have been slowly automating every aspect of their cars, they still need a human behind the wheel. These include windscreen wipers, side lights, high beams, and even unlocking the car when you walk near.
Car makers Mercedes and Tesla are two of the handful of manufacturers currently offering self-driving capabilities in road cars, however concerns about the technology’s safety means even with a self-driving car there must be someone behind the wheel ready to take over if necessary.
Legislative changes around the world are opening the doors for these vehicles to hit the roads, once they are able to prove their safety.
As most road accidents are caused by human error, time will tell if the machines can do a better job, even if not all of the vehicles on the road are driverless.
Whilst today we think of autonomous cars as too far into the future to even think about, could this be how our predecessors felt about motorised vehicles, having been so used to horse powered transport?
Perhaps in the future human driven vehicles will be so antiquated people will wonder what on earth we did without autonomous cars.