For those that have followed the New Car plans from the beginning, some
additions were unveiled today that make the transports a little less
radical than those originally proposed, at least for home use, but still
a big move away from today's personal transporters.
The NC concept is like other train transports, opened Ellison. It's a
simple piece of equipment that relies on a complex rail system. To
illustrate the point, he cited two examples: the bathtub and pitchfork.
Each is a very simple piece of equipment and useless without suitable
infrastructure. (Well, maybe not the pitchfork, so much, but that's
more oriented to rural situations anyway, and barns are big ticket
items. And then there are all those cows to deal with, and Ellison is
certain that the bovine paradigm is fading quickly.) The infrastructure
that backs such devices is very complex, but that is of no consideration
to the user, who, after all, should be grateful to pay taxes for such a
blessing. The NC is the same, a simple terminus with all the complexity
on the rail system side. A key theme throughout the presentation, and
the main driving force behind the NC concept, is that automobiles are
too complex for most people to use.
Under the New Car model there are three main components to a system,
Ellison explained. The first, the NC client, is a piece of flimsy sheet
metal that has a quick-release bindings much like skis, and interfaces
to the transport engine. A typical NC will include an ARM or LEG
microprocessor (TRUNK processors may eventually become available for the
profoundly handicapped), a set of wheels, and a connector which
resembles a trailer-hitch. The connection would typically be to an
escalator or elevator connection on business versions and to a moving
sidewalk on the home models, which will also be fitted with a garage
The clients run ("roll", to push the metaphor) a New Car Exercising
System (NC-ES). Ellison said the system was a low-impact, aerobics
based, 100-percent RollerBlade-compatible exercising system. In a
subsequent press conference, he also revealed it was backwards-
compatible with NordicTrack's "Rap-City" exercising system.
The next component is the NC ambulation server. In a suburban
environment, this is where all the neighbors gather, similar to the
old-style bus-stop. The clients glide along the moving sidewalks to the
nearest ambulation server point, where they assign themselves to an
ambulation object class (a form of roving IP address), and are
assimilated into the server. The ambulation server is a standard
Windshield NT Groupware bus-technology transporter he noted, capable of
aggregating up to 16 NC clients. In a separate licensing deal, the J.
Crow Corporation may offer segregated service class options.
The NC city server, the third component, is central to the personal home
city of each rail system user. This would typically be similar to the
ambulation server but with a large cargo bay (affectionately called the
cabin), and holds 128 or more clients. In the suggested configuration,
it runs Conrail's Universal DriveShaft Server, which allows users to
access to any available location objects, and can even perform routing
with non-local city servers. The beauty of the system is that the
client needn't know anything. They merely need to wait (sometimes for
quite a while) for the location to happen to them.
Operation is simple. To start an NC, you need to insert a smartprobe
into the personal bodily extremity of your choice, usually one of your
spare toes. The smart card holds information about who you are and your
personal transport preferences. When a NC client is mounted, it
downloads all the programs it needs from the ambulation server. It also
gets access to a users personal city, which includes things like work
addresses and e-malls.
In a domestic environment, where users are not blessed with 100+ mile
per hour rail speeds, there are virtual reality trips that greatly
speed access to the rail system, although they can get to be repetitive
since they are prepackaged and stored on non-volatile media.
In one of many attacks at General Motors, Ellison said of Roger Smith's
comments that NC stands for "Not a Car" and it will not run Windshield
programs, "He's wrong." While it's true that the base NC client model
doesn't have a Windshield per se, the more advanced models do, and in
any case, clear plastic umbrellas are provided, which do a very
satisfactory job of Windshield emulation.
The simplicity of the New Car system was the final area of the
presentation. Ellison announced that he would build an NC network as
his finale. In the corner of the stage was a pile of boxes, and
Ellison proceeded to make working a scale model out of Legos and baling
wire. The motorboat sounds he made with his lips provided one of the
highlights of the presentation.
Learning to use the client is equally easy, he said. There is no
planning and, in its place, a system called "Leaving just in time." The
user hollers whenever a change in location is needed, and almost as if
by magic, the system takes over, moving the client as needed. A far
cry from today's automobile-based systems which place the entire burden
of planning, starting, stopping, and aiming the car on the end user.
The user is also relieved of the need to deal with other massively
complicated interfaces like gas pumps, oil changes, tire replacements
and the like. He also claims that crashes will be a thing of the past.
That's a lofty goal, and certain to be true. When's the last time you
heard of a train wreck?
Where'dja wanna go t'day, Mac? Yeah, well, things is rough all over.