A final trend that is emerging is an extension of the Internet of Things: autonomous robots and vehicles. By combining software, sensors, and location technologies, devices that can operate themselves to perform specific functions are being developed. These take the form of creations such as medical nanotechnology robots (nanobots), self-driving cars, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).
A nanobot is a robot whose components are on the scale of about a nanometer, which is one-billionth of a meter. While still an emerging field, it is showing promise for applications in the medical field. For example, a set of nanobots could be introduced into the human body to combat cancer or a specific disease.
In March of 2012, Google introduced the world to their driverless car by releasing a video on YouTube showing a blind man driving the car around the San Francisco area. The car combines several technologies, including a laser radar system, worth about $150,000. While the car is not available commercially yet, three US states (Nevada, Florida, and California) have already passed legislation making driverless cars legal.
A UAV, often referred to as a “drone,” is a small airplane or helicopter that can fly without a pilot. Instead of a pilot, they are either run autonomously by computers in the vehicle or operated by a person using a remote control. While most drones today are used for military or civil applications, there is a growing market for personal drones. For around $300, a consumer can purchase a drone for personal use.