Multi-Modal Robotic Transportation May Be The Norm In 20 Years

Sunday, November 18, 2012

personal aircraft
Future of Transportation
A multi-modal robotic transportation system will potentially be a big part of our future.  Researchers like Peng Yu at MIT are working on the AI and robotic systems for transportation that will be flexible and intelligent enough to cope with weather and other unpredictable events while using optimization and organization to make your commute smoother and faster.
W hen recently paid a visit from the folks at Engadet, MIT graduate student Peng Yu happily showed off a couple of flying demos on a visit, controlling a Parrot AR.Drone quadrotor with a number of methods, including keyboard, tablet (touch), voice and gesture controls. The gesture control method was executed via a Kinect hack that allowed Yu to direct the flying robot over a small model town in the middle of the lab.

Voice, meanwhile, played an important role in a computer demo that keeps in line with a vision from Boeing of a future (some 20 or 30 years out, according to its estimates) in which citizens utilize personal aircraft capable of carrying two to four people to, say, commute to work. Speaking into the system, the user essentially negotiates with the aircraft, giving a destination, hoped for flight duration and any pitstops to be made along the way.

When this research is taken into consideration with the developments in self-driving cars, which are projected to begin to be coming to our roads by 2019, a picture of a multi-modal robotic transportation system is coming into focus.

robotic car map
Google self-driving car map

Conceivably, in the future, you may not necessarily depend on a single transportation mode to commute to work or run errands.  An intelligent network of transportation could be developed that would provide the best system depending on traffic volumes, weather and availability.  Where you might drive into the office int he morning, a personal helicopter ride with a neighbor may be the optimal solution for the trip home, since you and your neighbor each need to stop off to pick up milk and eggs.

Research, like Yu's which focuses on the collaboration between humans and autonomous systems in planning and execution tasks, especially under unexpected plan failure situations, is laying the groundwork for such potential solutions.  and the underpinnings of the transportation network of the future will be dependent on robotic and artificial intelligence systems as much as asphalt and overpasses.

SOURCE  Engadget

IMAGE SOURCES  Top - Terrefugia, Google map - Reuters/Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles

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