Driverless Cars: Powered by Toaster Technology?
Driverless cars, once a concept, now a reality, will soon be transforming the way we commute and travel. But, are driverless cars being powered by the same technology used in a kitchen toaster from 1990?
Driverless cars, once a concept, now a reality, will soon be transforming the way we commute and travel. The driverless revolution has begun and cities across the UK have already started experimenting with this new breed of technology with the aim and objective of reducing congestion, accidents and emissions. By 2025, the driverless technology industry is expected to be worth £900 billion globally and is expected to grow by 16% each year.
Many of us are excited about the prospect of companies, like Google, taking over our driving for us and chauffeuring us to our destination, allowing us to read, eat and watch TV in the process. Although some of us, and rightly so, are still apprehensive about travelling in a vehicle that we have limited control over.
The host of technology being used to power driverless cars is impressive. In Google’s driverless car, Waymo, there are radars, an endless number of sensors, cameras and aerials that all talk to one another and allow the vehicle to travel under minimal human intervention. But, when we consider the one piece of technology that connects the many sensors and radars in the vehicle to the internet (IoT) we discover that its beginning is ever so slightly unusual.
Over two decades ago, two businessmen set about creating the world’s first internet connected toaster, which was later unveiled at the 1990 Interop Show. Simon Hackett, co-founder of Internode Pty Ltd and John Romkey, founder of FTP Technology worked together to produce a toaster that later went on to automate the entire process of making toast.
In 2001, Brunel student Robin Southgate took it one step further and used meteorological information from the internet to burn the morning weather report onto a slice of bread. Then, in 2008, Electrolux produced a concept toaster that would never be released, but, the concept involved the front page of your newspaper being burned onto your toast. Finally, in April 2009, BBC unveiled the iPlayer Toaster that featured a 7-inch touchscreen on its side.
When we look at these toasters, they all make toast, like any other toaster. But, these toasters all had one thing in common; they were all connected to the internet. Simon Hackett and John Romkey didn’t just unveil a toaster connected to the internet in 1990, they created and unveiled the Internet of Things (IoT) – a piece of technology that would later go on to power the driverless cars that are set to transform the automotive industry and the way we travel.
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