Friday, August 14, 2015

Volkswagen Built A Prototype Self-Driving Stroller...Maybe

Volkswagen Robot Stroller

Volkswagen Robot Stroller

Screenshot by author, from Vimeo

It’s one of every parent’s worst nightmares: while pushing your child around in a stroller, the carriage slips from your hands and careens down the street into danger. So when Volkswagen asked what other products they could improve that aren’t cars, one suggestion was “strollers that automatically brake.” The idea was so basic, Volkswagen decided to go ahead and make it. And then they went a step further, turning it into a self-driving baby carrier. Because nothing smacks of “safety” like handing a baby to a robot.

Here’s the video Volkswagen made of the project:

At face value, the video shows a stroller that not only brakes on its own, but one that can drive on its own — following a parent a couple of paces behind as they walk about.

Claiming it borrows an adaptive cruise sensor for a VW Golf, the stroller ostensibly always stays an exact distance behind the parent, even if he or she is running or walking. As it goes on, the scenarios in the video appear increasingly less realistic, ending with a robo-stroller moving back and forth as it keeps up with a child in a swing.

There also doesn’t appear to be a baby on board. Maybe, like other recent high-tech unveils by car makers, there’s more magic happening behind the curtain than on-screen. While it appears to be a viral stunt, the idea itself isn't impossible: we're already seeing driverless cars, and autonomous robots, so a robot stroller remains within the real of possibility.

Even if this isn’t real, a stroller than automatically breaks when rolling away is a great idea. Here’s hoping someone makes it. No need for a robot brain alongside baby, necessarily.

[Autoblog]

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