Many of our readers will be aware of, and some of you may even own, a semi-autonomous vehicle.
I've recently purchased one and it’s been very interesting adjusting to the vehicle handling some of the driving automatically.
One feature of this new vehicle is the ability to stay within the lane (I call this ‘lane lock’). When this feature is engaged, if/as I drift towards one of the lines, the car gives a warning tone and automatically centers itself in the lane.
Another feature is “adaptive cruise control”. With this feature, I set a certain speed and a number of car lengths to stay behind the vehicle in front of me. So, if I’m doing sixty-five mph and someone moves in front of me, my vehicle slows down to the same speed as that vehicle and then drops back the designated number of spaces. If the vehicle in front of me slows down, my car slows down. If they stop, my car stops. When they move again, my car moves again. On a recent trip of some 1,000+ miles, I drove without touching the gas pedal or brake, and had to steer only minimally for about 75% of the trip.
Another feature of this vehicle is that when I am low on fuel, the vehicle speaks, in my case in a lovely female voice with a slight British accent, and say, “You have enough fuel to travel approximately 40 miles. Would you like me to locate the necessary service station?” This has proven much more effective than the little light that comes on in my other vehicle (which I inevitably fail to notice until I hear/feel the unmistakable indications of my running out of gas. ;-)
A finally feature is that my new vehicle automatically applies the brakes if I am in danger of colliding with something.
So, what’s all this have to do with proposals? Driving a semi-autonomous vehicle has had me thinking about what it would be like (what it WILL be like perhaps?) if/when semi-autonomous proposals are a reality.
Suppose there was an application with a feature that kept the developer of content on topic. I’ll call this “topic lock”. While typing away, if/as the writer was veering off topic, they would hear a warning tone and they’d be offered suggestions for getting back on topic…a verbal ‘nudge’ if you will.
Or perhaps there’d be a feature that prevents the content developer from stating something that was prohibited or would result in disqualification. An applying of the brakes, so to speak.
And as to deadlines and such, imagine if the application were able to notify you of an approaching deadline. The application might speak and say something like, “Your submission is due in less than 24 hours. Would you like me to request an extension?”
When I first began driving in the late 60’s (yes Jon, it was quite some time ago!), the car I had (it was an ancient early 50’s Buick) didn’t have power brakes, power steering or even seat belts. And now I’m driving a vehicle that handles much of the driving for me.
When I first began working on proposals (in the early 80’s) there were no word processors, no spell check, no proposal applications and ‘cut and paste’ was just that.
At the recent APMP conference I saw proposal applications that automatically formatted documents, identified such things as clichés and overly used words and let the content developer know when they were reaching their allotted word or page count. Perhaps semi-autonomous proposals aren’t too far in our future.