The year of living disruptively
THE YEAR 2017 IS UPON US, and it could well
be a tipping point with respect to the disruptive
technologies we’ve been hearing about for years.
It will not necessarily be a year marked by the
emergence of new, game-changing technologies.
Rather, it will be a year in which long-talked-about technologies move from the drawing board
to real-world applications.
By now, you’re no doubt familiar with the short
list of disruptive technologies: autonomous vehicles, delivery drones, 3-D printing, the Internet
of Things (Io T), big data, robotics, and artificial
intelligence (AI). All have been tested and
trialed over the past two to three years. But it
appears the fun is now about to begin in earnest.
Take autonomous vehicles, for example. The
idea has been out there for decades. But in 2016,
after years of seeing the occasional news story
on, say, a road test of a driverless car, we were
suddenly inundated with reports of new and
expanded pilot programs, new technologies, and
new entrants into the market.
For instance, in December, Apple confirmed
the company’s intent to develop a self-driving
car in a letter to U.S. regulators. That followed
reports in both the U.S. and Europe of autonomous trucks making trial deliveries, including the
mid-October delivery of a truckload of beer from
Fort Collins, Colorado, to Colorado Springs. The
two-hour, 120-mile trip was conducted with a
“smart” truck outfitted with sensors, radar, and
The truck did have a driver, but largely to mon-
itor the vehicle’s progress. The driver reportedly
took the wheel as the truck moved onto and off
of the highway—the first and
last mile, if you will.
The test was conducted
by self-driving vehicle specialist Otto in partnership
with the giant brewing company Anheuser-Busch. Otto
was acquired last year by the
ride-sharing company Uber,
which is testing a self-driving
taxi service in Pennsylvania
In mid-October, we learned
that all new Tesla vehicles are
being equipped to operate autonomously, although that functionality isn’t yet activated on the cars.
When the time comes, turning
on the driverless features will be a
simple matter of a satellite-based
download to the car, according to
published reports. Tesla is considered a pioneer in this area, but it’s
not alone. The likes of Google and
Ford Motor Company are already well
down the road to developing their own driverless
Similarly, the drones we’ve heard so much
about recently took a big step closer to real-world
application. In December, Amazon completed its
first drone delivery in the U.K. As part of a limited trial, it dropped off an Amazon Fire TV media
player and a bag of popcorn to a nearby residence.
According to published reports, it took just 13
minutes from the time the order was placed for
the items to be delivered.
Buckle up. We could be in for quite a ride in
[MITCH MAC DONALD, GROUP EDITORIAL DIRECTOR]
This will be a year in which
move from the drawing board to