Intel wows Xponential with hard facts, helpful robots, entertaining drones

By AUVSI News posted 09-05-2017 18:33


By Nick Adde

Relying upon a mix of dazzle and hard facts, Intel Corporation CEO Brian Krzanich used his May 9 keynote speech for AUVSI’s Xponential 2017 as a platform to outline in crystal clear terms how unmanned systems — and the data they collect — are shaping the future.

“Data is the new oil,” Krzanich says, after dispatching Loomo, the robot-vehicle developed jointly by Intel and Segway, Inc., that brought him to the stage, to fetch him a bottle of water.

Speaking to an audience of UAS industry leaders and key players, Krzanich says that when time for driverless cars and aircraft becomes commonplace, the most important aspect of the vehicles would be the data they collect, not their performance.

Today, Krzanich says, “Online people have data that brick-and-mortar people don’t. The number of devices tied to the cloud is exponentially increasing.”

The ever-increasing amount of data collected and shipped to the cloud for analysis will provide the backbone for commerce and government operations for generations to come, Krzanich believes.

He also scoffs at any notion that the amount of data being collected will peak. To the contrary, he says, “It will be much larger than you can imagine today. The data rate is going to explode on us in the next few years. This is an opportunity, not a problem.”

Work on creating robotic systems that emulate human behavior continues apace, Krzanich says. The devices are learning how to emulate human vision and instantly map a room when they enter, enabling them to avoid obstacles. They can lock onto a feature such as a human face or pair of eyes and track the feature as they navigate.

“The next decade will bring massive innovations. A refrigerator will have ‘eyes’ that allow it to look out and ‘see’ who is in the kitchen. They’ll become more autonomous, but really more smart,” Krzanich says. “They will have the ability to make decisions.”

During one highlight of Krzanich’s presentation, an Intel Falcon 8+ drone conducted a simulated inspection of a mock bridge within minutes, a project that would take hours or days for human inspectors, at considerably more risk to life and limb.

Krzanich also outlined an arrangement between Intel and Airbus, which would foster the use of drones to conduct aircraft inspections.

“Aircraft inspection takes hours of time for humans, and airplanes have to be inspected regularly for cracks and defects. It’s now a manual system, with people having to climb all over the plane,” Krzanich says.

The same Falcon 8+ drone, equipped with appropriate payloads, could identify defects, including specifics about their size and proportion, for repair teams to quickly address.

He also addressed the potential uses in natural disasters, and other aspects where UAS can be used for the public good.

“Natural disasters are disruptive and costly. Flooding is one of the most expensive, costly and dangerous disasters. It’s difficult to recover from for a society or community,” Krzanich says.

“Automated systems — like we’ve been talking about all morning — are on the leading edge” of providing relief to stricken areas, he says.

Rescue and recovery operations that took days to execute could be carried out by UAS in a matter of hours, with software and payloads that can identify locations of possible victims in enough time for their lives to be saved.

“I believe this industry, with partners, can deliver that — easily,” Krzanich says.

He closed his keynote with a bit of fun, as a group of Intel Shooting Star drones flew around the mock bridge and then formed an X for Xponential.

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