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Could 2014 be the year of driverless golf carts?

December 30, 2013

People might one day look back at 2013 as a seminal year in the golf-automotive world. Bubba's hovercraft burst onto the scenes in April, as did that Batmobile golf cart-thing, which in December sold on eBay for more than $17,000. One criminal even tried to use a golf cart as a getaway vehicle -- although that one didn't turn out so well.

But it's the brilliant minds over at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), in collaboration with the Future Urban Mobility Interdisciplinary Research Group (FM IRG), who could have closed the year with an invention worthy of starting a new one. It's a driverless golf cart, fit with laser sensors, computers and GPS satellites that together allow the cart to drive itself.

The idea stems from the car manufacturing industry, where engineers are testing cars that could one day do all the driving for you. Why? Because it helps cut down on commuting time and may, in some cases, actually be safer because computers can't experience emotions like fatigue or anger.

Could self-driving golf carts be a natural successor to driverless cars? They might. They might even precede them, according to one of the carts builders James Fu, because right now one of these carts requires a tolerance between 10 to 50 meters. That's space more suited to a rural environment -- a golf course, for example -- rather than a city.

We'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, here's what could prove to be a glimpse into the future: