The evolution of smart tech: What will our cities look like in 2025?


While smart cities have been depicted in TV shows and movies for years, showing futuristic worlds where cars can fly or where drones buzzing overhead is the norm, the truth is a version of this reality is closer than you think. Many companies investing in smart city technologies are too focused on the consumer side of IoT (the "flashy side") and are hindered by outdated, inefficient backend infrastructure forcing them to rethink their strategy. Knowing that things will go wrong in the early years of smart cities and IoT technology adoption, it will take a select few to be the first movers, take the risk, and carve the path for others. Despite what many might believe, we'll likely see rural areas – not major cities – adopt smart technologies such as delivery drones and autonomous vehicles first.

Starting a Robotics Company? Sell a Service, Not a Robot

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

If you want to start a robot company, plan to kick off by selling a service performed by robots, not the robots themselves. "I'm a big fan of going out and doing a service with a robot, competing with other businesses that provide that service, rather than trying to sell a $100,000 robot," said Nathan Harding, co-founder of Ekso Bionics and now co-founder and CEO of Wink Robotics, a still-mostly-stealthy company intending to bring robotics technology into the beauty salon industry. Beetl intends to sell its product, a dog-poop-scooping robot that uses image analysis and cloud-based machine learning to keep yards clean at about the same price as traditional dog-poop-scooping services charge today, about $80 to $100 a month. The company hasn't set that price yet; its robot is intended to be able to get around cities and into buildings more easily than the rolling delivery robots launched to date.

A foldable cargo drone


When the folding cage is opened in order to either load or unload the drone, a safety mechanism ensures that the engine is cut off, meaning that safety is ensured, even with completely untrained users. But where this drone takes a step forward is in the folding cage, ensuring that it can be easily stowed away and transported. By adding such a cage to a multicopter, the team ensure safety for those who come into contact with the drone. The drone can be caught while it's flying, meaning that it can deliver to people caught in places where landing is hard or even impossible, such as a collapsed building during search and rescue missions, where first aid, medication, water or food may need to be delivered quickly.

EPFL's Collapsable Delivery Drone Protects Your Package With an Origami Cage

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Of the many, many (many many many) challenges that are inherent to urban drone delivery, safety is one of the most important. Nobody has a reliable, cost-effective solution for this, although we've seen some unreliable ones (dangling packages on strings) and cumbersome ones (dedicated, protected landing pads), so we've been missing an elegant way of protecting end users from robots that fly with spinning blades of death. At IROS in Vancouver, researchers from Dario Floreano's lab at EPFL will present a clever origami protective cage that can quickly expand to 92 percent of its original size to safely(ish) deliver 0.5 kilogram of whatever you want, locked up inside. As it turns out, any drone carrying a package takes a big efficiency hit, and that hit essentially overwhelms the impact that the cage has on the quadrotor.

Watch this origami drone tackle a crucial problem with drone delivery


This folding drone caught my eye for its elegance. Researchers from NCCR Robotics, and the Floreano lab at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland drew inspiration from origami and folding space shelters to create this cargo drone. Its foldaway cage helps protect bystanders and untrained operators from whirling rotors--a big concern with delivery drones. But the cages add bulk, making the drones hard to store.


Daily Mail

This test shows progress for the team's first in New Jersey in 2016 (pictured) Johns Hopkins researchers set a new medical drone delivery record after successfully transporting human blood samples 161 miles. Among the two groups, the results for red blood cell, white blood cell, platelet counts, sodium levels, and other measures were all similar. 'We expect that in many cases, drone transport will be the quickest, safest, and most efficient option to deliver some biological samples to a laboratory from rural or urban settings,' said Timothy Amukele, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the paper's senior author. Among the two groups, the results for red blood cell, white blood cell, platelet counts, sodium levels, and other measures were all similar.

Africa's Drone Delivery Is Zipping Past the US


The locals call the Zipline drones "sky ambulances" as they soar overhead and swoop in low to drop off lifesaving blood supplies by parachute to remote hospitals and clinics located hours outside the Rwandan capital of Kigali. The Tanzanian government aims to use Zipline's delivery drones to make up to 2,000 deliveries of medical supplies per day. But Zipline needed to provide timely delivery of medical supplies across dozens of miles in Rwanda and Tanzania. For example, Flytrex, a startup focused on cloud solutions for drone operations, recently started a delivery drone service involving one or two drones making up to 20 flights per day between two set points separated by a large bay in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Pot delivery by drone? California cannabis czars put the kibosh on stoner pipe dream

Los Angeles Times

California's Bureau of Cannabis Control last week outlined its plans to ban pot delivery by drone, putting the kibosh on any business hoping to make a buck on the concept. On Wednesday, the bureau released an initial study describing proposed emergency regulations for commercial cannabis businesses ahead of Jan. 1, when marijuana sales, with proper retail licensing, will be allowed for recreational use in California. In its study -- Commercial Cannabis Business Licensing Program Regulations -- the bureau is clear: Marijuana must be transported in trailers or commercial vehicles. The rule differs from federal drone regulations, which allow package delivery by drone as long as the device is within sight of the pilot, doesn't fly over people and the product weighs less than 55 pounds.

Automation replaced 800,000 workers… then created 3.5 million new jobs

AITopics Custom Links

These days, it’s tough to avoid newspaper headlines warning that artificial intelligence is coming for your job. The problem is that, often, the only thing these oversimplifications get right is that there is in fact an important connection between automation and work. What’s surprising is how many examples there are of AI acting as the catalyst for new hiring, higher wages, and happier employees. But of course AI success stories aren’t as exciting as the “job-stealing robots” narrative. The reality is that the impact of AI on the workforce is complex, nuanced, and still very much in transition.

California bans drones from delivering marijuana

Daily Mail

It says transportation must be via commercial vehicles and trailers and bans aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human powered vehicles, and unmanned vehicles. They'll also have to retain distribution records and enter transport and shipment information into a California'track-and-trace' database. 'Transportation may not be done by aircraft, watercraft, rail, drones, human powered vehicles, or unmanned vehicles.' The strict regulations put a major dent in the plans of startups like Trees Delivery, Eaze, and MDelivers, which planned or envisioned using drones to make marijuana deliveries in the future.