MONTPELIER – State officials are asking Vermonters to use caution, and to not disturb any robots they may see on the roads or in the parks and forests, as these small devices may actually be doing important work. With the unemployment rate remaining extremely low, the state is having trouble filling many of their job openings. Now, with the help of a little creative technology, Vermont is saving money and solving problems.
“We’re calling him Roadba.” A round disc is travelling down one of Vermont’s back roads, controlled by state technology adviser Dr. Miles Dyson. “Road, because he’s designed to fix potholes, and ‘He’ because of the patriarchy.”
The Roadba gathers loose dirt and stones from the bumps in the road and uses them to fill in larger holes, finally sealing the dirt with a laser before moving on to the next hole. Dyson says the state has over three dozen modified Roombas ready to tackle the state’s pothole problem. The holes that are being filled have been mapped by six other robots, or “Mapbas,” that have been travelling the state for the past month, identifying trouble spots.
“This is really only the beginning,” Dyson says. “We’ve got a working prototype that we’re testing right now that will hopefully go around the state gathering seeds and pollen, and then planting new trees and other vegetation, while pollinating others. Just don’t get in their way, or you might get fertilized!”
With robots once again taking jobs from the imaginary humans that Gov. Scott is trying to lure into the state, there are unions already in talks with legal advisers to determine if their rights are being infringed upon. In addition to economic pitfalls, some Vermonters also worry about the environmental ramifications of such a program. Local arborist Mac Swan says he’s not sure the new “Treebas” are a good idea.
“I hear they’re training Roombas to climb trees now,” Swan says. “I actually think that’s a pretty terrible idea. There are more than fifty species of tree in Vermont, and each of them has their own needs. The bark differences alone would make it very difficult for any one small robot to take care of every tree in the state. Also, I don’t want to be murdered by sentient tree robots. So there’s that.”
Dyson maintains that the robots have been programmed not to kill humans at this time, but still advises Vermonters to keep their distance, especially from the “Chopbas.”