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The Future! Uber Launches Self-Driving Cars in San Francisco, Amazon Completes Drone Delivery

Who needs drivers, or shipping delays, or jobs? Wait.

The technology of the future might not quite be flying cars and jetpacks (although we’ve got those, too) but things we never dreamed of—or at least things that didn’t have quite the immediate appeal. While it may feel like, societally, we are backsliding into the past, we’ve got some futuristic tech milestones happening right around us with self-driving cars and automated delivery.

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First, there’s Uber, which is launching self-driving car service in San Francisco today. No more worrying about those pesky human drivers—kind of. The company had already started a self-driving program in Pittsburg, which features a human driver to assist for safety reasons, as well as an Uber engineer riding along to keep track of how the technology is doing in order to fine-tune it. The San Francisco program has the same caveats, so don’t expect an empty car to show up at your doorstep Transformers-style just yet.

Self-driving is a difficult technology to perfect, though, since no one is going to want to hand their fate over to a computer that can’t even drive as well as human drivers, who are already terrible at driving. These testing periods are bringing fully-automated, significantly safer car services closer to reality.

Meanwhile, Amazon is taking to the air. In the UK, the online retailer has completed their first official delivery by drone, bringing us all closer to realizing the dream of never leaving the house again. The extra special delivery in Cambridge took only 13 minutes to complete from the time of ordering, making standard delivery methods look more sluggish than ever.

The drone delivery is carried out from a specialized order fulfillment center, so we’re still a ways off from being able to receive anything we could possibly want within minutes of ordering, but the proof-of-concept is there. It’s only a matter of time before the technology spreads, and we all wind up in Wall-E chairs with robots doing all the work—or just unemployed.

(via Tech Crunch and Engadget, image via Uber)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct <em>Geekosystem</em> (RIP), and then at <em>The Mary Sue</em> starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at <em>Smash Bros.</em>

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