The proposed development for Lilac Hills Ranch in North County has stirred heated debate for months as the county moves closer to a decision on the project.
Although that decision is still in the future, Developer Randy Goodson is planning to spearhead “the wave of the future": incorporating robots into the community to promote healthier living.
Goodson wants to use about a dozen robots on the private streets of Lilac Hills Ranch, acting as a chauffeur for residents out on a run, carrying your groceries home for you, mowing your lawn and driving you home in a Polaris.
However, contentious discussions between residents in the surrounding area and county officials have yet to hint if the development will be approved.
Lilac Hills Ranch would convert rural land not currently zoned for the 600-acre project into schools, hotels, commercial space and more than 1,700 homes. A road that would serve as one of the main exits for the community would also have to be repaved and expanded, threatening the property lines of current residents.
Recently, the planning commission recommended approval for the project to the County Board of Supervisors, agreeing that Lilac Hills Ranch complies with the county’s general plan.
Goodson said he understands the opposition to the project, but insists the development will benefit everyone.
“I understand it’s natural to be scared of change,” Goodson said. “Fear of change is human nature. We’re creating a great place that’s not only going to enhance the lives of people who move into Lilac Ranch, but also to all of our neighbors. We’re building parks and schools and trails that are there for everybody.”
While the project is being considered, anything is possible…and robots could soon be coming to a community near you.
Goodson said the robots can be assigned to the task of your choice via a mobile app. You tell the robot where to go or where to pick you up, similar to Uber, the rideshare app.
The developer has enlisted 5D Robotics, a Carlsbad company, to build the Lilac Hills Ranch robots.
5D Robotics showcased the capabilities of the Polaris and Segway models that would be used in the community at Carlsbad’s Alga Norte Park on Thursday. One rectangular, wheeled robot weaved back and forth across the park, meant to mimic the movements of a lawn mower. The Polaris operated hands-free, as it would when taking residents home from a night out in the community.
5D Robotics CEO David Bruemmer said he’s excited for the development as a test location for the robots—before 5D moves toward autonomous highway driving robotics.
“Each of these vehicles (robots) is able to use lasers to actually see in 3-dimensions everything that’s happening around it,” Bruemmer said. “If there’s a 3-year-old that jumps in front of it, if there’s an obstacle like another vehicle, it’s going to get around that vehicle; it’s going to get around that human. That’s absolutely critical.”
Goodson said he will be buying the robots, and the homeowner’s association will pay for operation and maintenance. There’s currently no estimate for what it would cost the association.
If the community development project is approved and the robots are built, Goodson said Lilac Hills Ranch will be the first community in the country with robotic assistance and transportation.
The developer is scheduled to appear before the County Board of Supervisors on Oct. 28.