For me, the “present” is sort of permanently frozen in my mind as the mid-to-late nineties. As we drift ever onward into the future, we rob old sci-fi stories of their futuristic tropes. Today, we stand on the verge of one that gets little attention but stands in the background of many sci-fi properties: automated delivery.
Whether it’s packages swooping in via drone or pizzas delivered via golf-cart, there’s always been this backdrop of automation in many near-future science fiction works. From the drink-serving droids on Jabba’s sail barge to the Johnny Cabs from Total Recall, the idea that robots and AI will take over transporting people and objects for us is so ubiquitous, yet rarely mentioned.
And we’re almost there.
Two technologies are on the verge of colliding like peanut butter and chocolate to form the Reese’s cup of our tech lifestyle: app ordering and self-driving cars.
Face it, we’re one Elon Musk / Jeff Bezos drunk text from having groceries show up at our door in a Tesla via one-click.
Self-driving cars crisscross the country every day in long-haul testing. A self-driven semi just made its first cross-country delivery. In urban tech centers, seeing self-driving cars practicing their craft is commonplace. The only thing stopping these vehicles from carrying paying customers is skittish lawyers for Uber and Lyft.
The pieces are there.
Technology is a pile of Legos with new pieces being injection molded every day. Soon enough, someone will realize they have all the pieces they need to build the futures we’ve seen on screen.
Then hopefully, “shipping delays” will become a thing of the past.