Updated: May 16, 2019
Remember back in 2012, when a quirky New Zealand venture placed dogs in the driver's seat of a vehicle and had them drive themselves around a racetrack? The project was a collaboration between SPCA Auckland, dog trainer Mark Vette, MINI New Zealand and advertising agency DraftFCB. The goal was to help change people’s perceptions of rescue dogs, their intelligence and ultimately their worthiness as pets:
SPCA Auckland chief executive Christine Kalin said at the time: “Sometimes people think because they’re getting an animal that’s been abandoned that somehow it’s a second-class animal.”
The remarkable stunt went viral and appeared on prime time news the world over. Viewers watched in awe as stray street mongrels suddenly took control of one of modern man's measures of intelligence and achievement: driving a car. Re-homing rescue dogs was great, but the idea that dogs may soon be driving the car behind you caused some consternation. For better or worse, the concept seemed to lose momentum and disappeared into television history. Perhaps the venture lost funding, or didn't work commercially beyond a viral video - but ultimately the website www.drivingdogs.co.nz is no longer active and their Facebook page shows posts stopping around 2013.
A lot has changed in the world since then - largely due to technology. Automated driving vehicles, once an unpredictable terror on the streets are now becoming an accepted part of the modern commute and set to grow exponentially from here. Tesla, the electric vehicle manufacturer led by Elon Musk has promised and delivered on many advancements in this area and made backseat driving a reality. Ultimately, successes by companies like Tesla creating driverless cars has probably sealed the fate of drivingdogs.co.nz
Perhaps, in some ways it's not a bad thing that technology may have made the driving dog redundant. Personally I feel that human drivers are an erratic bunch behind the wheel, let alone a street-wise Fido!
But it is a reminder that technology advances at a rapid pace and shows little mercy to anything redundant it leaves in its wake.
As a business, it's important to ensure you prepare and protect yourself from the unrelenting advancement of technology. Make sure you take some time to talk to Stratus Blue about how we can help you embrace change rather than fight it.
So, is this the end of the road for driving dogs? Not necessarily. They will be fondly remembered as the instigator of man releasing his tight grip of control of the motorcar. Although the initiative drivingdogs.co.nz has all but ceased to exist - the future never looked brighter for those who endeavour to push the boundaries of what can be done. In the wise words of The Chemical Brothers, "We've Got to Try!"