Monday, October 11, 2010

A weekend of turkey and robot cars

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everyone! I can't keep my dates straight so I'm not sure if it was actually today or yesterday, but not that it matters because it's a holiday and I'm spending it gorging on turkey.

In that vein, I'm sure there are a number of Canadians out there getting excited for the real feast, which hits seven days from now: the KFC Double Down, which arrives in Canada on Oct. 18. My compatriot Steve Tilley, who writes about video games and other tech stuff for the Toronto Sun, had a story over the weekend about why Canadians are so jazzed about this monstrosity of a sandwich. He asked me for my thoughts and I told him it was very Freudian. Check out the story.

The other big piece of news over the weekend was Google's revelation that it has been working on and testing robot cars. That's right - cars that drive themselves. The Google is written by none other than Sebastian Thrun, the computer scientist at Stanford who developed Stanley, the robot car that won the 2005 DARPA Grand Challenge robot car race. Here's a video of the Google car on the road:

The DARPA challenges (three of them so far) and what they will mean to the future of cars are covered in Sex, Bombs and Burgers. I actually had the privilege of riding in The Boss, the car that won the 2007 DARPA race, a couple of years ago at the Consumer Electronics Show. It was one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced in my life - watching the steering wheel turn itself was something right out of Knight Rider.

Google's news came completely out of left field, although in hindsight it's hardly surprising because this is a company that continually does amazing things. It was also incredibly welcome news. There's going to be a predictable chorus of people thinking up reasons why having robot cars is bad, but I for one am glad that someone has the cajones to try and invent the future rather than just sit around and talk about it.

In any event, enjoy the turkey and don't forget to come back tomorrow for some really big news!


Clayton Lee said...

I, for one, welcome our new robot car overlords

Justin Mohareb said...

There's a guy on a mailing list I'm on who won't conceive of such a thing as a self driving car, because of something that happened in a Dr. Who episode.

I wish I could believe he was joking.

Peter Nowak said...

Okay, I haven't seen the Dr. Who episode in question. Exactly what happened?

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