Up a creek without a pilot
You really wanna be asleep right now? Self-flying taxis.... Right. am i the only one who's a bit scared?
I love a bit of tech. Radar cruise control, downloadable autonomous-ish driving features on Tesla; all of that stuff floats my geek boat, no doubt. But Airbus has announced that it is planning to test a self-flying taxi by the end of 2017. Best of all, it can ordered in the same way you order an Uber and....
Well, a while back I woke up in a taxi, stopped at traffic lights in central London at 4:00AM and quickly realised that what had woken me from my deep and peaceful was the snoring of the driver, slumped over the wheel. We were in a Prius so I guess the silent progress of the machine had lulled the poor, knackered sod into slumber. I prodded and woke him and he pointed out that he was near the end of a long shift. Fair point. And if the Airbus flying taxi is flying itself, then there is no driver to fall asleep, is there.
Well no, there isn't. But what if the bloke or woman who designed the battery terminals had just come in from a three-day bender? What if whoever is in charge of making sure that the legions of un-piloted, four-rotor weird helicopter things don't bump into each other got dumped the night before and spent the night howling at the moon with a bottle of scotch and a foot long reefer in their quivering fingers? And someone has to fuel it. What if they're coming down with a nasty flu and put diesel in? They won't be there to explain themselves and neither will there be a pilot to bring the thing safely to the ground. There are too many variables here. Things go wrong on rollercoasters, with terrible and heart-rending results. And they're based on technology from the Victorian era. It only needs one tiny, tiny thing to go wrong somewhere along the infinitely long chain of design, build, service and maintenance events that would be needed to make such a thing work for it to end in an almighty catastrophe that will leave the passenger - an until then entirely smug and self-satisfied business exec buzzing their way to a 4pm in Swindon - screaming helplessly as the Honda plant just outside of town looms scarily large in a helicopter windscreen hideously uncluttered by the comforting presence of a pilot of any sort.
I might be sounding like the sort of coward that holds back progress here, but I mean, would you have a go? Would you?