Drones are becoming flying computers & it was the right time for...

Drones are becoming flying computers & it was the right time for Intel to get into the drone market

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Q what is your purpose of attending a conference like Intergeo?

This is my first time at Intergeo conference. It is a premier event where industries using geospatial equipments come together. We at intel are investing in unmanned aerial vehicles and drones and drones are used a lot for commercial inspections as well as surveying and construction. The customers who come to intergeo use such kind of equipment for very very detailed commercial applications.

Q. The new product that Intel has launched at Intergeo?

Intel has launches its first commercial Falcon 8 plus drone at Intergeo. This is for north American market.

Q. What’s the purpose of getting into drone business?

Intel has been working on drones for couple of years. Drones are becoming more and more autonomous. In some aspects they are very much becoming flying computers. Intel has a long history of enabling computer solutions. The second part is that when drones come to the sky, you want them to be very safe. You want them to have collision avoidance. We at intel have real sense technology. Its basically a sensor which is very small and weighs just 8 grams  [shows the sensor] and it provides the capability to develop collision avoidance and prevents drones from hitting cars, bridges, people etc. it’s a fundamental capability which makes drones safer. Today, people are using drones for taking photographs at weddings, but the area of commercial utilization is phenomenal. Inspecting a bridge, a tower, inspecting any area after natural disaster…the damage that’s done to buildings…. It’s a very intense human work and its even unsafe for humans to get there. Drones can be much quicker, faster and capture a lots of data that needs to be digitized. These drones have payloads and that include hugh resolution imageries, infrared sensors, thermal sensors… they can even tell you if a plant at a particular land is healthy or not. So there are many places where the information from drone can be applied. The information need to be processed. One drone flight can get you gigabytes of data. All of this need to be processed into computers. And then we need to do some analysis to see how can we use that data. Whether a bridge needs repair or everything is alright. The computers can help us process the data faster.

So when you look at that aspect from intel, the date and capability that a drone brings need huge amount of compute and processing that helps the common man.

Q.Do you think the time was right to enter into drone market?

When you look at the drone industry, one of the key feature is how a regulation lets you fly drone. Different countries have different regulations for flying a drone. There are countries which see value and potential in it. We are looking at more than $25 billion of opportunity by just using drone in the coming decade. USA has given permission to fly for commercial inspections under part 107 rule. In countries like India, lots of these capabilities can be applied. Drone regulations are opening up and governments understand the importance of drones.

Drones will help create jobs and digitize our information in a way we use it in future.

Q.What are your views on FAA’s regulation for UAVs?

FAA is moving lot more faster now. The 107 rule is very well defined. But even if you look at 107 rule, its still talks about visual line of sight which means that an operator has to see the drones .

Over a period of time rules will become more flexible and starts the journey towards full automation.

Q.It is said that this regulation could create $82 billion in annual economic growth and as many as 100,000 jobs by 2025, but exactly how it will help to drive jobs and industry growth?

There are more than 6 lakh road bridges in USA. Inspecting a bridge is a very complex exercise. And as these infrastructure age, it is more important to know their health. And you need to have more frequent inspections and it is humanly not possible to do that on a regular basis. But on the other hand a drone can inspect all such infrastructure for you quickly. This itself is an economic opportunity. You are saving time, saving cost and creating jobs. And this is not only limited to USA… Every country require it to inspect their ageing infrastructure.

Q.What if any data recorded during hobby activity is later on used for commercial purpose?

Privacy is a very big aspect of it. People look at drones and say it is capturing my private data. You have to look at a different aspect of how a data is being used. You are trying to abstract it. If you have a crack in a building then this is a very different application. When you capture data, there may be people around it, but the idea is not to focus on people but to focus on inspection. It is important that privacy is respected and maintained. And applications and software takes handle of those concerns and appropriately have the use of the information.

We need to look into the issue of maintaining privacy