If you work evening shifts, you will eventually find yourself wrenched out of deep REM in the middle of the goddamn night by the UPS driver delivering some over-packaged knickknack at 8 a.m. You’ll also get used to frequent eye rolls when you sleepily wish people a good morning at noon.
There are perks, though. When you hit the grocery store after work, you get the place to yourself. And you never have to commute during rush hour.
As a student at CU, I took the HOP bus to class. After I graduated, I scored a job at the Longmont Times-Call, and for one glorious year, I was able to walk to work. But now, I am among the 77 percent of single-occupancy vehicles driving into Boulder every day.
I know. I’m sorry.
Look, it’s an hour-and-30-minute bike ride each way for someone in better shape than me. And the last bus that stops by my office leaves two hours before I’m done with work. I drive the smallest, most fuel-efficient car I can afford, but I’m still helping clog up Colo. 119.
Proposed solutions to our traffic mess have ranged from the practical (more bike lanes) to the fanciful (monorail!). But here’s my pitch: hi ho Silver.
No, not horses. Big cities in the pre-automobile era were drowning in knee-high horseshit. Let’s not go back to that. But wouldn’t it be great to have an agile, easy-to-park ride that won’t crap on your lawn? I’m talking about your own trusty robot steed.
A little while ago, Boston Dynamics released a video of its mechanical quadruped pulling a sleigh. Imagine trotting up to the drive through astride one of those bad boys. You could trick it out with flame decals and as many cup holders as you could fit on its withers. Go ahead and throw on one of those rubber horse masks for an extra dollop of uncanny valley.
You may be wondering how this differs substantially from just using more bicycles or motorcycles. I have a three-point rebuttal. First: Robot horse, y’all! Think of the aesthetic. And the accessories. The boots, the bandanas, the saddle blankets. These puppies could usher in the cyber-cowboy age. It would be worth it for the neon rodeos alone.
Second, the robot steed is an all-terrain vehicle, able to scale a stony slope, leap over low fences and recover its balance after taking a kick to the gut. Add a dash of autonomous tech to that, and you have a designated driver ready to stumble home from the saloon with you.
Third is the promise of renewable energy. Consider this: Your steel stallion doesn’t need to take a dump, but you still do. And you can deposit it into Mecha Mr. Ed’s biochemical fuel cell, where a film of designer bacteria will convert last night’s instant ramen into electricity.
You heard it here first, folks: Self-driving shitbots are the transportation of the future. All we need is a few maverick engineers to fill in the gaps. Yee-haw.