Self-Driving [Fill in the Blank]

Clearpath Robotics just announced the name of an autonomous vehicle whose sole purpose is to move inventory around warehouses.

I am curious whether we will see a lot more of this, and whether these more focused efforts will launch faster than more generalized autonomous vehicles.

Lots of industries have specific purposes for autonomous vehicles — shipping, manufacturing, agriculture, defense, aviation. And presumably it is easier to develop automation within the more narrow confines of a niche industry.

Against that, there is the weight of the auto industry — both incumbents and new entrants — who see an enormous market for self-driving cars.

My guess is that we will see the industries develop in parallel, with successful innovations from one field being cross-purposed in other fields. That warms my heart and makes me thing that self-driving cars are coming even faster.

Originally published at on September 23, 2015.

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