By Miriam Raftery
October 3, 2015 (Valley Center) – Imagine a community where a driverless electronic “pod” picks you up at a transit station and ferries you to your home, or errands along the way. Envision other robots that can fetch and carry groceries, or follow your children to school or their bus stop to make sure they arrive safely.
That’s the vision of 5D Robotics CEO David Bruemmer, who teamed up with Randy Goodson, developer of Lilac Hills Ranch, a proposed multi-use community of largely agricultural land in Valley Center that would include 1,746 homes, parks, and businesses.
The aim is to get people out of cars and encourage use of transit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a “virtual rail” system. The developer would pay for installation, but the homeowners’ association would pay for future operations and maintenance.
But not everyone is enamored with the high-tech vision in this rural region.
“Did they use a robot to deliver this huge load of bull manure?” asks ex-Supervisor Pam Slater-Price, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
On the Ranters Roost backcountry land use forum, readers were quick to weigh in.
One noted sarcastically that robot trail companions walking kids to school would be “really compatible with horses in an otherwise rural community.”
Another asked why the public is only hearing about the robotic ambitions now. “Shouldn’t this have been in the EIR?” the anonymous poster asked.
Yet another asked if robots could fight fires or evacuate residents (seeing as clogged evacuation routes is a concern some neighbors have raised). The poster added that maybe the robots could “do a brain transplant any Supervisors who vote for this.”
The project, sans any mention of robots, was approved last month by the County Planning Commission by a 4-3 vote and is slated to be heard in the near future by the Board of Supervisors.