The future of autonomous cars … and planes

January 27, 2012 by Amara D. Angelica

(Credit: BMW)

If you’re driving on the Autobahn right now, I advise you keep an eye out for this guy, who is apparently praying his driverless BMW doesn’t crash into something (note: this is a highway without speed limits — not reassuring).

(Videos here.)

Hey, BMW: why not toss in a robot driver to carry groceries and fight off the crowds at Walmart on Black Friday?

So what’s next? Autonomous planes?

The X-47B drone (credit: Chad Slattery/Northrop Grumman)

Why as a matter of fact, yes. The Navy is testing one right now near Chesapeake Bay, the Navy’s X-47B drone, says the L.A. Times. Only this one is driven by a computer instead of a praying pilot, and will be smart enough to land itself on aircraft carriers.

Unlike current remote-controlled drones, these autonomous drones will react at high speed and carry a lot more fire power. See the awesome “United States Air Force Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight Plan 2009-2047” report for more.

Ultimate robotic war plane: the MQ-lc (post-2020) (credit: USAF)

Also coming: robotic armed submarines and automated tanks, perfect for L.A. freeway driving.