Would a self-driven golf cart a welcome addition to the game or a technology best applied elsewhere? (Courtesy of Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology) The self-driving Yamaha golf cart being developed by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology uses a webcam and 3D sensors to navigate and avoid obstacles. (Courtesy of GolfChannel.com)

Need a ride? Self-driven golf carts are being developed in Singapore



For children, one of the joys of playing golf is getting to drive the golf cart.

So is the news that a self-driving golf cart is being developed in Singapore good or bad for the game?

Rick Horrow, AKA "The Sports Professor," reported at GolfChannel.com that an electric Yamaha golf cart uses a webcam and 3D sensors to navigate and avoid obstacles while driving up to 15 miles per hour. It is being developed by the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART).

Watch the driver-less golf cart in action:

A test run in 2015 saw the carts ferry 500 tourists along winding paths in a public garden busy with pedestrians and bicyclists. An encounter with a monitor lizard reportedly caused a stand off with the cart before both eventually let one another pass.

The good news is nobody got hurt, and everybody had fun. Ninety-eight percent of participants indicated they would ride again.

I'm a little more skeptical. Wouldn't taking away the chance to drive a cart be a devastating blow to junior golf?

Adults might be a bit more forgiving, but is a self-driven cart a welcome addition to the game or a technology best applied elsewhere? From my perspective, I would miss the autonomy to drive wherever I wanted. What if a deer or fox jumps out of the woods? I'd want to stop for a photo, but the cart would keep on trucking. I guess I'd need a test-run before passing final judgment.

A self-driven cart is essentially another assault on the traditional golf cart. Golf bikes and the GolfBoard -- a single rider transport that "surfs the earth" -- are all gaining momentum. Even Segways are available at a few courses around the country. The golf industry will certainly be keeping an eye on this trend, even if future cart drivers won't have to watch the road.

Apr 27, 2016



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Jason Scott Deegan

Senior Staff Writer

Jason Scott Deegan has reviewed more than 700 courses and golf destinations for some of the industry's biggest publications. His work has been honored by the Golf Writer's Association of America and the Michigan Press Association. Follow him on Twitter at @WorldGolfer.