VW Engineers Invent Self Driving Stroller
You have to be careful what you say around VW engineers. No matter how crazy the idea may sound coming out of your mouth, it just might get the “just how could we get that done?” engineer juices flowing.
Throw in some of that famous German ingenuity and engineering to a plausible but crazy idea of a stroller that brakes automatically before hitting objects, shake vigorously and achtung! Before you know it, you have a working prototype going viral on Facebook.
And it does more than just stop. The stroller is self-propelled, self-steering and self-driving in addition to being self-stopping.
So, where did they get the idea to make a self-propelled stroller? Believe it or not, the idea came from a question the company put to its customers on their Facebook page. Never content with the status quo, Volkswagen sought out new ideas from the only people as smart as Volkswagen engineers – Volkswagen buyers. The safe money says that the suggestion came from a Volkswagen owner with full hands and a baby that needed walking.
Of course, it’s not much of a challenge to make a stroller that will push itself. Self-propulsion technology has been with us for a long time. They’ve had self-propelled vacuum cleaners since the 1990s and self-propelled lawn mowers even longer than that.
The problem when it comes to a self-propelled stroller, of course, is that the idea is to put a baby inside in. So, simply designing a stroller that can be “pushed” without hands isn’t enough. It needed to be safe for baby – which means it needs to be able to stop on its own. It also needed to be able to stick close to the parent automatically.
The self-driving, self-stopping stroller is shown going through its paces in the viral video. It follows the parent while he walks, stops when he stops, speeds up when he speeds up – even when he’s jogging – and slows down when he slows down. The stroller flawlessly stops before hitting walls and other obstacles. The stroller follows at a consistent distance of around five feet.
Needless to say, the test drew a lot of attention from onlookers. A number of people – mostly moms – initially make a panicked move to save the freewheeling “baby” before realizing that the stroller is automated. Their reactions leave some doubt as to whether the idea of the self-propelled, self-stopping baby carriage is likely to catch on anytime soon.
So, the question on everyone’s mind… how did they do it?
The truth is that they used existing Volkswagen technology. The whole thing works using a sensor taken from a VW Golf. It makes use of technology used to control Volkswagens’ adaptive cruise control and automatic breaking.
So, when will you be able to head to your local Volkswagen dealership and get your own self-propelled, self-stopping baby stroller? The short answer is: Don’t hold your breath.
The longer answer is that while the design and capabilities are very real and Volkswagen could produce something like this if they chose to do so, they market is limited by the fact that there aren’t too many moms and dads ready to trust this sort of technology. But you never know. It was designed primarily as a joke, but the joke has proven that the technology works and is basically safe. With additional testing, such a product certainly could be produced… if there is a significant enough market for it. It certainly wouldn’t be the first “gag” product to catch on.