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Proceedings Paper

Mobile Robotic Systems Of The Near Future
Author(s): William J. Wolfe
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Paper Abstract

Imagine, if you will, that all human beings suddenly disappeared: Literally: Needless to say, some catastrophic events would occur. Automobiles and airplanes would crash, machinery would grind to a halt, meals would burn, etc. Some things, however, would continue in their present state for a while. Automatic devices would operate on their own for a while and power supplies would continue to provide energy for lights and other devices. At some point, maybe years down the road, all man-made devices and systems would halt. Now, one may argue that some low-power devices such as a microchip in a hand calculator somewhere or a space probe may continue for many years, but in an engineering sense there will be point when manmade activity is essentially zero. Now, imagine that instead of performing this "thought experiment' at the present time, it were to take place 100 years in the future. This stretches the imagination a bit because now we must conjure up a picture of two things: (1) the instant disappearance of humans, plus (2) what technology will be like one hundred years from now. It is likely that things would not grind to a halt as quickly as they would today. In fact, one might imagine that the degree of automation would be such that many things would continue unaltered in the slightest and might possibly be improved by the removal of humans. It is quite possible that mail would continue to be delivered, "read", and responded to; business meetings held, decisions made, actions taken; products manufactured, commercialized, sold, and brought in for repair; etc. Is this perhaps the subconscious goal of mankind? To build a "world" where humans are expendable?

Paper Details

Date Published: 25 February 1987
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 0727, Mobile Robots I, (25 February 1987); doi: 10.1117/12.937783
Show Author Affiliations
William J. Wolfe, Martin Marietta Denver Aerospace (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0727:
Mobile Robots I
Nelson Marquina; William J. Wolfe, Editor(s)

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