There's a real sense of accomplishment that comes from learning how to nimbly pilot a drone. Unfortunately, that's also frequently accompanied by a nervous anxiety stemming from the potential for your pricy flying machine to smash into a tree, mountain, building, or any other hard object. Luckily, modern drones have obstacle avoidance tech inside to cut down the chances of collisions, and DJI's new $799 Mavic Air is chock full of sensors and computers to keep your craft in the air and out of the “drone fails” section of YouTube.
At the close of the Global Fortune Forum in Guangzhou on Dec. 7, the event's hosts set a world record for the largest drone swarm ever deployed. For 9 minutes, 1,180 drones danced and blinked out an aerial show. It was cool. It was also an interesting look into the potential future of aviation.
In a California warehouse in October, quadrocopter drones zoomed and buzzed, racing through an obstacle course of black-and-white checkered arches. On one team: drones guided by software and AI, the work of a team from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. On the other: a drone steered by a human professional—Ken Loo, a Google engineer and Drone Racing League pilot.
Thanks to recent advances in robotics, computing, and other technologies, a small but growing number of scientists and engineers think robot-made housing might finally be possible. In fact, not only is it possible, it may be far better. Robotic construction may increase the speed of construction, improve its quality, and lower its price.
Consider the job of an intelligence analyst—someone who has to sift through vast amounts of information and figure out the bigger narrative. The raw data this hypothetical analyst looks at could be anything from a report on the ground, to government statements, to items in the local media. The analyst's job—looking at data, synthesizing it in a report—is rich territory for artificial intelligence to help out, according to a new company called Primer.