Wheelchairs, shopping carts and even chairs will all soon be autonomous and connected.
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Self-driving cars are getting all the headlines, but are we ready for self-driving everything?
It the way things are going – that anything with wheels will eventually have the ability to drive itself. No more pushing or pulling for us humans.
Singapore, for example, is developing self-driving wheelchairs to help with the lack of health-care workers in the island country.
“These nurses are more precious in doing their work – in taking care of the patients – than pushing them around in the wheelchair,” said director of government digital services Mark Lim at a conference, according to GovInsider.
The wheelchairs, schedule to be unveiled in March, will incorporate computer vision, robotics, machine learning and cloud computing technologies.
Walmart is also looking to eliminate or better employ its human labour with self-driving shopping carts. The retail chain recently filed a patent on robocarts, which it would use for a number of purposes.
Self-driving carts could not only follow customers around stores, they could also corral themselves when abandoned and bring products to employees, saving the humans from having to move back and forth between store aisles and storage areas.
Such carts would have numerous benefits. As the patent application suggests, “Shopping carts are left abandoned, aisles become messy, inventory is not displayed in the proper locations or is not even placed on the sales floor, shelf prices may not be properly set, and theft is hard to discourage.”
Then there are several flavours of self-driving baby strollers, which will free parents from the onerous task of having to push their child around. The Smartbe Intelligent Stroller surpassed its funding goals on IndieGoGo earlier this year:
For the truly lazy, there are even self-driving office chairs. Car maker Nissan is obviously looking to make it a little easier to stand in line for your next iPhone:
Some of this might seem silly, but these are all examples of how ubiquitous connectivity and the declining cost of computing and sensors will inevitably allow such flights of fancy to become reality. And us humans will never have to lift a finger again.