Is it a robot, a vehicle, or a drone?

There’s been a lot happening in the autonomous vehicle space (including a fresh $2 billion round into Cruise, which included Microsoft). But one interesting question is, where do we draw the line between a vehicle and a robot? Or, put another way, when we think of the autonomous-vehicle market, what counts as a vehicle? A few weeks ago, a start-up named Bear Flag Robotics expanded its seed round by $7.9 million, to grow its engineering team and expand production of its autonomous tractors. There are a couple of interesting things here. First, “human supervisors use the company’s software to monitor and move the fleet of tractors from either a control room or personal device.” Is that autonomous? And what is this thing? Is it an autonomous vehicle, a robot, or a drone? It seems as though people have a fairly clear connotative delineation between these three things, but can you write a clear denotative one? Even if you could today, I predict these lines are going to get very blurry. Second if you look at a company like this, what market is it in? Is this “autonomous vehicles” or is this “AgTech”?

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Chris Richardson has strong opinions on just about everything. Just ask.