Before self-driving cars, robot crossing guards
October 15, 2014
Running a self-driving “car” back-and-forth across a street at low speed ought to be easy compared to the general problem of driving, and it would serve a public good.
We can’t afford to staff every intersection with its own human crossing guard, but places like New York City someone in a crosswalk gets hit and killed every week, if not more so.
Rather than expect the NYPD “No criminality suspected” culture to change, let’s use robotics to even the playing field. Whenever a pedestrian should have right of way, a robot crossing guard (or two) accompanies them across the street, between them and potentially oncoming traffic. The crossing guard would be tall, built very sturdily, and weigh about, oh, 5 tons, with most of that carried low so it won’t tip over in an impact. That will give drivers an incentive to pay a little more attention to what is in front of them, and also protect pedestrians when they don’t.