Haley Bucelewicz | 10.26.16
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Editor’s Note: ClickReads is our weekly series of the top technology and business stories relevant to the field service industry. Check back weekly for the newest installment, or look for the #ClickReads hashtag on Twitter.

Have you ever watched the 1960s cartoon The Jetsons? The Jetson family lived in a futuristic city with robots, holograms, and flying cars. They communicated through video chat and used artificial intelligence before it existed.

Back then, you probably never expected a future like that. And you're probably still skeptical of some things. But it turns out that The Jetsons weren't too far off in their predictions. We are fast approaching a world with flying cars and even robot doctors. And we're looking towards a future with faster, more efficient customer service.

Prepare yourself for a whole new futuristic world set to transform service. Here are just some of the things you can expect to see in a few years:

1. Self-Driving Cars

A year ago the idea of self-driving cars might have seemed far-fetched. But Uber already launched a driverless car service in Pittsburgh. Self-driving Ford Fusions pick up pre-selected Uber customers. Right now an engineer sits in the front seat—but Uber works to kick them out.

Uber's competition Lyft says robots will drive most of its cars in five years. They are working with General Motors to create fully autonomous vehicles by 2021 or 2022.  Tesla, Audi, and Volvo also have their own plans for self-driving cars.

And the self-driving vehicles don't stop at human transport. Uber just bought Otto, a startup that wants to change transportation. The first item on their agenda is self-driving trucks. Uber plans to offer freight hauling services with these vehicles by next year. The company says this will make highways safer and bring down the costs of logistical operations.

2. Flying Taxis

As if self-driving cars weren't enough, Uber also has plans for a self-flying taxi. The company is developing technology that would allow drones to fly passengers around cities. This would mean less congested streets and faster commutes through cities.

This you'll have to wait a little longer for. It will likely require massive funds and regulation. Not to mention people will have to get comfortable with the idea of flying to work everyday.

3. Delivery Drones

We already have drones, but have yet to use them to their fullest potential. At the moment, GoPro holds 80-percent of the consumer drone market. But it's starting to look like drones will be the future of transport.

Three years ago Amazon announced Amazon Prime Air, a 30 minute drone delivery system. Now they're testing these drones in the United Kingdom. The United Parcel Services is also testing delivery drones off the coast of Massachusetts.

Food service industries are also joining the trend. For instance, Dominos began testing pizza delivery by drone in New Zealand.

In addition to commercial delivery, researchers see the potential for medical and emergency needs. The military already uses drones to transport cargo. But what if drones could deliver medicine, or even blood, to remote areas? Or if drones could scope out the scene of an accident before the first responders arrive? Drone companies such as Zipline are working on this.

Perhaps soon we will see as many drones as birds in the sky.

4. Smarter Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is getting smarter and more human-like. In the last ClickReads we discussed empathy as one differentiator between humans and AI. But researchers are figuring out how to make AI understand our feelings and respond appropriately to them. This will avoid misunderstandings and show AI how to assist us better.

Moreover, IBM and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) partnered to create AI that understands sight and sound. Humans can describe something as soon as they see or hear it. If AI processed sight and sound this way, they would have a better understanding of the world. And once again be more effective at helping humans.

5. Devices with healing powers

With the Internet of Things (IoT), we already have devices that communicate with each other. And IoT has been a game-changer for field service and maintenance. It can sense a mechanical breakdown before it happens, and fix it before it becomes a problem.

Now researchers look for an IoT application that can sense breakdowns in the human body. For instance, Johnson & Johnson recently invested in an IoT application for healthcare. They're already working on self-correcting lenses and surgical robots. This could be big for the healthcare industry, and save millions of lives.

If you want to learn more about future technology trends, follow the links below: