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Blog 5 Myths About Drones and Automated Vehicles

They may not be part of our everyday conversation, but drones and autonomous vehicles are indeed part of our everyday lives. Still a controversial topic in modern tech development, here are five myths about our machine friends that could change your mind on how you feel about them.

Myth #1: They’re Too Smart

We’ve all seen iRobot. For many people, drones and self-driving vehicles are a step too close to the commonly depicted doomsday of classic sci-fi. Machines being able to act independently of an operator is a sign that they’re capable of dominating the world, right? Well, in a manner of speaking, yes. But they only dominate what, when, where, and how we tell them to. Like a toaster. It was designed for one function: make bread crispy at the push of a button. The very definition of machinery is to perform tasks so that humans don’t have to. So less ‘taking over the world’ and more ‘taking over the crap we don’t want to deal with.’

A toaster, of course, is a basic example, but all technologies are designed by people, for people. Even the most basic machines require a certain amount of self-sufficiency, otherwise, they are useless to us. That being said, the ability to act on behalf of humans should not be confused with the ability to think as humans do. Just like your toaster, even the most advanced A.I. is limited to its programmed functionality.

So, the short answer? No. A drone programmed to deliver a package to your doorstep will not suddenly decide to take vengeance on your schnauzer for barking at it, and a Honda Civic with autonomous features would likely not make the news for embarking on a personal vendetta.

Myth #2: They’re Not Smart Enough

We can probably blame this one on vending machines. Vending machines haven’t made much progress over the years. They mean well, but most of them end up taking your money without delivering what you so desperately need at the moment! And after a certain amount of snack trauma, a person could lose their faith in automated machines altogether. Some people think automated tech is a sign of the apocalypse, while others worry that it is underdeveloped, mechanically incapable, and ultimately, unsafe.

It’s easy enough to kick the vending machine and curse all manufactured robotics for being faulty, but there are many successful —and far more advanced— automated mechanisms productively functioning in our everyday lives. They may not be as overt as a snack dispensary, but they are equally convenient and undeniably effective.

For example, remember that last time you were trying to parallel park, and your car warned you that you were getting too close to something? You have automated technology to thank for that. Even basic commuter cars these days are equipped with safety automations that verifiably enable a safer driving experience. Daily, we rely on things like automated doors, security systems, cleaning appliances, and smart home features without batting an eye. Without a doubt, drone services and fully autonomous vehicles will one day sound just as ordinary as your Roomba.

Myth #3: They’re Spying On Us

Ah, yes. Queue “Somebody’s Watching Me” by Rockwell. Advancing technologies have a way of instilling paranoia in us. But let us put your mind at ease right now: if you have a cell phone, the government already has everything they need to know. For legal reasons that’s a joke.

It’s true, drones and autonomous vehicles would likely be capable of collecting user data, but nothing beyond what other computer-based technologies are already doing. Monitoring user behavior is a way to provide the most customizable services possible. But data collecting is just that– data collecting. While we can see that a PC user from Ottawa read this blog today, we can’t tell that it’s Jim sitting on the toilet at work after his midday coffee. To most algorithms, you’re more or less just a number. One of many Jims from Ottawa who had a coffee today.

Beyond data collecting, this myth likely stems from the use of personally-owned drones… and television. Truth is, all drones, whether owned by individuals or companies, have usage guidelines and restrictions in place to guarantee privacy. Are there individuals who have broken those guidelines? Sure. But professional drone services monitored by corporations with any sense of PR would find security for its customers’ top priority. And, rest assured, drones are not that stealthy– you’d likely see an unwanted visitor before it sees you.

Myth #4: They’re Harming The Ecosystem

Don’t more machines mean more pollution? Not necessarily. Of course, drone services and autonomous transportation are still in the earlier stages of development, but the ideal drone delivery system could very well reduce the number of fossil fuels being burned for the sake of delivering goods. Traditional vehicles are making efforts to become more eco-friendly, but with well over 90% of vehicles still running on gas, they’re one of the largest contributors to air pollution. Drones in particular have the potential to reduce the number of vehicles contributing to everyday pollution.

For instance, drones are contenders for being a fully electric-powered service. They are smaller and more practical for working off of battery power, and there is not a large enough existing market for them that transitioning to a more eco-friendly structure would be a challenge if necessary. In any case, modern tech developers are certainly conscious of our world’s health. Part of innovating future technology is making it as efficient as possible. Yes, there’s a long road ahead of us, but transportation solutions moving forward will be better than anything we know today.

Myth #5: They’ll Never Compare With In-Person Services

Ok, not sure if our myths got mixed up with facts here, but this is absolutely true. The customer service experience would change drastically with drone and automated services…for the better! Maybe we’re the backward ones for this, but would you really miss the UPS guy slam-dunking your packages on your porch with the force of ten Lebrons?

Sure, there’s something retro and Instagram-worthy about dealing with people face to face, but we live in a generation where stopping to chat isn’t always convenient. With lesser chances of crime and human error, programmed services are just better at the serving part, which is ultimately what most people want when it comes down to it. Imagine getting an Uber or a DoorDash without worrying about how much you should tip them. Let’s be honest, people don’t always thrive in customer service. We struggle with being told what to do. But machines don’t mind being bossed around. It’s their whole thing.

 

Myths Busted?

We certainly don’t have all the answers, but hopefully, this was enough to get the wheels turning about how drones and automated vehicles could be, well, totally awesome. The future is full of so much exciting tech that 20-30 years from now, automated and flying vehicles will just be another boring utility in our everyday lives. We’ll probably even wonder why we were ever reluctant to use them.