ZMP City Simulator ExperimentEnlarge Photo
James Bond has had a lot of cool gadgets, but one of our favourites had to be the remotely controlled BMW 7-Series from Tomorrow Never Dies. Controlled by a touch-screen cell phone (which still manages to look old-hat now, such is the pace of technology), our hero was able to drive, and indeed crash the car all from the comfort of the rear footwell.
Needless to say if Mr Bond had been somewhere else altogether - his living room, perhaps - he might have had an even easier ride. No doubt the morning commute would be easier if you could control your car remotely, avoiding the traffic jams that waste away hours of your life every week.
ZMP's City Simulator Experiment does just that. The Japanese robotics company has experimented with self-driving cars such as the ungainly RoBoCar, and now they've turned their attention back to those controlled by a driver... albeit a driver sitting anywhere other than inside the car itself. At the moment the experiment is being run with an RC car, but it could feasibly be scaled up to a proper vehicle.
Remotely-controlled vehicles aren't a new concept. The military has experimented with human-controlled drone aircraft with the aim of making surveillance a much safer operation, and the same idea has been applied to bomb disposal vehicles.
Driving would no doubt be safer too if cars had no passengers, but then we suspect you've already spotted the deliberate mistake. Well, make that mistakes.
Although there probably are some practical benefits down the line, there's an overwhelming air of pointlessness about being able to do your morning commute from the comfort of your sofa. Working from home has eliminated the need for commuting at all for many people, so why you'd want to drive your car to work without you is beyond us.
If we wanted to drive in traffic at home, we'd fire up Grand Theft Auto and free ourselves from the constraints of rules, regulations and responsibility. And save a bit of money in the process.
Interesting, impressive, but we don't expect to see the next James Bond film featuring Bond sitting on his sofa eating potato chips whilst controlling a car stuck in Monte Carlo traffic...