Every day, the reality of a dystopian future becomes more real. Recently, it was Ford applying to patent a method for autonomous cars to repossess themselves if owners miss enough payments. Or it’s the fact that I can’t really modify my car in California. But in the United Kingdom, they’ve gone a step further by using robot towing dollies to pluck cars out of tight spaces.
No need to clean your glasses or rub your eyes; this is true. In a concerning video posted to Instagram, an unmanned towing dolly is seen plucking a Volvo XC60 from a parking spot reserved for disabled folks. Beyond the fact that the owner of the XC60 was likely in the wrong for parking in that spot without a placard authorizing it, the fact that there is a tank-tracked towing robot lifting all four tires off the ground and simply removing this heavy SUV from a parking spot is the stuff of nightmares.
The robot bears the text “RNW.” Some light research reveals that the logo belongs to a UK towing company called Recovery North West. They specialize in towing everything from heavy equipment that has been left stranded, to recovering classic parking violators. On RNW’s site, the company doesn’t mention the robot much, but it does make an appearance in a photo gallery. For the discerning towing enthusiast, it must be a fearsome sight.
It looks designed for one purpose: towing in extremely space-restricted areas. For example, an underground parking lot or a narrow street. The thing is made by French company Multitract, and the robot is called the Eastract. It has tank tracks to make extremely tight maneuvers and is powered by a 35-horsepower Briggs and Stratton engine. It was first made in 2012, is good to tow carry 5,500 pounds, and is radio-controlled.
So it’s been around a while, but this is the first that I’ve seen. The fact that it can effectively be the special forces of towing by going in and quickly extracting a car from a normally impossible place, and delivering that car to a nearby tow truck is frightening. Live in fear, UK residents.