Drone, Speed Racer, drone!
A small UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) is launched into the air to do photographic reconnaissance of the other side. It’s capable of carrying a light payload, and through a homing signal, can return to a pre-programmed location on its own.
Who built it?
The CIA? Boston Dynamics? The NSA?
That’s right…”Speed” Racer’s father built a drone into the Mach 5 race car.
There have been other cases where a geeky show appears to have inspired a real-world technology (cellphones and the communicators on Star Trek, for example), but this is one where, seen in retrospect, it’s an amazing prediction of the technology and the use of it.
Speed’s car has a number of special gadgets…or perhaps, an “alphabet” of them would be a better description. Speed pushes a letter on the steering wheel to invoke these special capabilities, as detailed in this
Letter G, the largest and central button, launches the “homing robot”, a bird-shaped drone.
Outside of its biomorhphization, it is functionally very similar to drones we have today, nearly fifty years after the cartoon first aired in the USA.
Once launched, it is remote-controlled by a joystick…and just like today, it takes a skilled pilot/operator. A crook tries operating it, and first crashes it (although it survives the impact, which might not be true of many of today’s drones).
A separate button, labeled “H” and not on the steering wheel, gives it a “return home” command, which it presumably does with limited artificial intelligence.
While I was certainly familiar with both Speed Racer and real-world drones, what suddenly gave me the epiphany connecting the two was news reports about Renault’s concept car…which comes with a drone! That’s when it hit me…a car-launched drone is, for all intents and purposes, Speed Racer’s homing robot.
Well, maybe not all purposes…Speed’s drone wasn’t weaponized, although it was sometimes used that way (mostly by just flying it into something or someone).
We have the drone: are the tree cutting buzzsaws coming out on next year’s model? 😉
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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.