Thursday, February 16, 2017

Dubai's Flying Taxis: Innovation or Inconvenience?

                In what seems to be overnight, Dubai has positioned themselves as a millionaire’s playground, a nation of great wealth, simply put an upper-echelon country. They have set the precedent for higher end living; they seem to pride themselves in having things the biggest, the most exquisite, and lavish in the world. Their level of innovation and bravery to move forward with technology, infrastructure, and architecture is unmatched. This attitude and innovation is exactly what helped Dubai rise to “stardom” in such a short period of time; along with a newly found source of oil. They’re continuing to progress and do things that others are either afraid of, or can’t afford and they show no signs of slowing.
                Staying within their identity, Dubai has recently approved innovation that will set them apart even more, flying taxis! Passenger Drones, with a carrying capacity of one person and a medium sized suitcase, is set to launch as early as July. The city has appointed a director of city transportation with an ambitious plan to increase driverless technology. They plan on having 25% of all journeys in the city operated by driverless vehicles. The drones are mad by a Chinese firm, Ehang, and can fly up to 31 miles on a single battery charge, with top speed reaching 100 miles per hour.
                This new type of technology will probably eradicate taxis completely, with the already constant pressure of services such as Uber. Eventually all of our transportation will be of this sort, we will no longer need humans for very many jobs. This thought seems to scare many, and simply put I don’t think we’re prepared. Companies that have gone fully robotic on manufacturing and have cut physical labor completely, have received tons of backlash. People have turned to their political leaders to “bring their jobs back”. However, it is simply not happening. The jobs are no longer needed so they no longer exist, in fact governments would hinder growth if they tried to prevent companies from going fully electronic and “looking out for the small people”. We live in a new age, the largest companies have very few employees. For example, facebook, a billionaire company has less than 300 employees.

                So what does this mean for the future? Personally, I believe this is a good thing, and the small man must change his thinking. Where there is human interaction, and flow of money there will always be jobs. As many robots as we make, it will never take away our human nature, which is the need for interaction with other humans. With that being said, I think it is imperative that people become more creative with their ways of employment. There has been a great increase in service jobs over the years. This trend will continue for years to come, and I think the job market and structure as a whole will continue. If not we will see even greater wealth inequality than we do now, which might be a dangerous thing. 


Jacqui Schmidt said...

The idea of self-driving cars seems really impressive and intriguing but would the actual implication be positive? In a perfect world these self-driving vehicles would make the roads a lot safer and would cut travel time. Considering we do not live in a perfect world, these self-driving cars impose a lot of potential danger and high costs. Mentioned in the blog above was the worry that these new self-driving taxis would get rid of jobs for many people. Along with that, I think another potential doubt would be the safety and expenses involved.
All manufactured and produced machines and equipment break at some point. Having self-driving taxis create potential danger because they could break down or glitch at any second. Safety might not just depend on how well this car is made and how many times it is tested because there is the issue of interference. An article from 24/7 Wall Street, mentioned this interference could come from hackers which pose a huge threat. “A competent hacker — of which there is no shortage — could soon figure out a way to take control of a vehicle’s steering or acceleration.” Terrorist attacks also do not need to be in the form of hacking but they could have or buy their own automated car. “The truck that drove into a crowded French beach and killed 86 people could have been stopped if authorities had had the ability to take control of the vehicle remotely. The downside, of course, is that a terrorist could gain control of an autonomous vehicle and use it as a weapon.” I think that these threats alone is proof enough, that these cars have the potential of causing more harm than benefit.
I think there is also a transition time in this development of technology that could cause a lot of conflict. Let’s say these automated cars start hitting the streets and highways. The thought of automated drivers could create fear for the drivers on the road, not knowing what to expect from the self-driving cars. It would only take one accident or glitch in the self-driving cars for many people to protest against their existence.
Developing a brand new way of traveling and creating never-seen-before technology also will not be a bargain deal. The costs involved in not only building, but research and testing would be extremely large. Who would pay for these costs?
A couple of other issues mentioned in the article from 24/7 Wall Street dealt with GPS and weather. GPS is still not perfect. The only difference is when people operate GPS there is a level of competency on our end; people might know when the GPS is telling them the wrong way or if there if a faster route. Another issue is that of weather. Will these automated cars still work during blizzards and rain storms?

Bobby Austin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bobby Austin said...

The automation of various forms of transportation has become the new 'norm' in todays technologically driven world. However, while these innovations have the capability to perform their job, people are ignoring some serious safety issues that should be addressed. In this case, Dubai plans to start flying passengers in driverless 'taxi drones' as soon as this July. "The [drone] provides a viable solution to the many challenges the transportation industry faces in a safe and energy-efficient way. The 184 is evocative of a future we've always dreamed of and is primed to alter the very fundamentals of the way we get around" (Hu).

The exact logistical plans for the implementation of the 184 Drone haven't been released yet, but Dubia's RTA has stated that their goal is to "have self-driving vehicles of all kinds account for a quarter of journeys by 2020" (Morlin-Yron). While the development of these drones has been revolutionary in the field of automated travel, pilots have public stated their concerns regarding safety issues. At the CES gadget show in Las Vegas, one pilot asked the question, "What happens if ground control loses the connection to the drone? That's most people's concern with any pilotless aircraft. We have the technology to send a signal to that aircraft and control it and communicate with it, but what happens if that technology is interrupted for some reason?" (Aimer). Perhaps the counter argument by the drone companies is the most alarming part; the drone companies have stated that "in the event of problems the drone will immediately land at the nearest safe spot" (Hu). That seems like an incredibly vague answer for a very possible issue. Driverless drone travel will become relevant in technologically advanced cities, but numerous safety issues should be resolved first before it becomes available to the public.