I was 12 in 1982 and the top two songs on the radio were Physical by Olivia Newton-John and Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. Reagan was in the White House and David Hasselhoff was on TV. Knight Rider was more than a fantasy for me, it was the future. Being a New York I am absolutely certain that an auto-bot would be a better driver than any taxi ca in Manhattan. If you think I am in the minority, see where the US Army is putting its dollars.
Our GI’s will soon be sitting in the backseat to robots in Iraq and Afghanistan as the military invests in more remotely controlled intelligent unmanned cars to defeat Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). Last month, the Pentagon awarded a contract to 5D robotics to develop new mid-sized bot-cars. 5D’s plan is not exactly to produce KITT but develop a mechanized car will have “perception and hazard sensors, manipulator(s), and operator control unit(s)” to efficiently attack IEDs. Well, this is all well and good for the Middle East, but how about the streets of New York?
In Oxford University, students have developed a fully automated car that is able to perceive its surroundings in addition to tapping into local GPS data to be completely automated. This handsfree experience (called Wildcat) was built by BAE Systems using cameras, radars and lasers mounted on the roof of a Land Rover, of course. In the words of Professor Paul Newman “Our long-term aim is to enable a new generation of robotic vehicles that can make the roads safer, less congested, cleaner, and personal transport more accessible. We do this by making smarter cars.” Now this sounds like KITT!
So David Hasselhoff it is time to dust off your Members Only jacket and hop to the passenger seat, because Knight Rider is back to take on the NYC cabbies.