So maybe I spoke too soon?
In last week’s column about past predictions about the future, I bemoaned the fact that flying cars, promised since the end of World War II, have yet to come to fruition.
At last week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, ride-sharing company Uber and Hyundai showed a full-sized mock-up of a flying taxi that the two companies hope to have flying by 2023.
The electric plane, called Uberdai, will carry a pilot and three passengers up to 60 miles, at speeds of up to 180mph, slashing journey times and helping get cars off the road. Eventually the craft will be automated, but for now the two companies are focusing on manned craft.
Another article talked about Boeing testing out their version of a flying car, Boeing NeXt, an electric aircraft with passenger pods designed to travel up to 50 miles. Bell Helicopter is testing the Bell Nexus, an aircraft powered with six rotor fans that pivot to provide both vertical and horizontal movement.
A promotional video provided by Bell shows ambulance, police and passenger applications for the aircraft, which looks to be the same size as a passenger helicopter.
In the video, passengers look calm and even bored flying in the unmanned aircraft. One person is enjoying listening to his music on wireless earbuds, another disinterested lady enjoys her coffee. Neither one appears to even be wearing a seat belt. I don’t think I could be that easygoing in a vehicle 50 stories above the ground.
So perhaps I will get to ride in a flying car before I die.
I saw several reports from CES last week. The future makes great “news” during January, so network news programs love to cover the show.
Home automation is big now. I saw a demo of a new internet connected faucet that responds to voice commands. The reporter asked the Google assistant to tell the faucet to dispense two tablespoons of water, which it did.
There’s a trash can that will tie the bag for you so you don’t have to.
Robots were big was well, including one that will bring a new roll of toilet paper to you, just on the odd chance that you didn’t remember to tell Google or Alexa or Siri or Cortana to either remind you to buy more or order more toilet paper for you.
Charmin toilet paper introduced RollBot, a two wheeled Bluetooth-controlled robot bear that brings you a spare when you need it. Apparently, the RollBot works a bit like a robot vacuum cleaner and can navigate its way to you, with a toilet roll on its head.
Charmin also showed off SmellSense, a bear faced bad smell detector that is placed outside your bathroom to let you know when it’s safe to enter the bathroom.
Samsung unveiled Ballie, a cute and somewhat judgmental and creepy robot/personal assistant. It’s a ball that will follow you around, looking at you with a camera (to record “special family moments”) and listening for your commands, just like Google, Siri and the rest of the personal assistants.
Since it’s a ball, it can play with your pet and even tell your home’s robot vacuum to clean up any messes Rover makes before you get home. Ballie will also tell you when you aren’t being active. Like we need someone else telling us that.
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