June 28th, San Diego. MIT Startup Showcase, Qualcomm Auditorium. Ubiquitous non line-of-sight communications is a key technology for enabling wider commercial applications of drones, according to Matt Grob, EVP and CTO of Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.
During his keynote at the inaugural MIT Startup Showcase in San Diego, Grob discussed drones and flying cars as a major part of Klaus Schwab’s 4th Industrial revolution, a concept based on ubiquitous mobile supercomputing, intelligent robots and self driving cars. Automated flying cars will be with us much sooner than most people realise, and will be derived from drones, rather than existing land based cars but there is still much critical technology to be developed in that field. Helping the process is that regulations about drones are now becoming established and, with drones under 250g being exempt from registration, a new class of product is being established where rapidly evolving technology can be brought to market quickly, spurring innovation.
The showcase is staged by the MIT Startup Exchange, a body dedicated to fostering links between MIT generated startups and corporations. This event highlighted robotics with a focus on the way that the mutually reinforcing effect of readily available supercomputing and artificial intelligence along with access to big data leads to intelligent, connected systems that can solve urgent societal problems.
A talk by Sertac Karaman, Charles Stark Draper Assistant Professor of Aeronautics at MIT, provided an example of how automation can address problems caused by previous generations of technology. While the automobile has been mostly a good thing in the US where zoning and planning has delivered real quality of life improvements, in less developed countries it has delivered mainly congestion and pollution. Even in advanced societies, the inefficiency of ownership based transportation is causing a re-evaluation of that model and there is a new push to deliver mobility on demand. This is evidenced by the popularity of bicycle sharing schemes in urban centers around the world but these schemes have their own problems. Poor demand matching limits their usefulness since no available bike at your start point or (even worse) no available docking station at your destination make them unattractive compared to the guarantee of your own car. However these are problems which can be solved by automation and Karaman described an electronic tricycle which is delivered to the requester on demand and which takes care of parking at the end of the ride.
These abilities (which are also promised in a number of other, more commercial, autos) depend critically on the triad of robotics, automation and analytics and demonstrate one of the ways in which these emerging technologies will be used.
Klaus Schwab in part defined the previous three industrial revolutions in terms of the new freedoms they brought; perhaps the role of the fourth is to free us from some of their negative outcomes.