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BoldIQ and the Army Rangers

On a beautiful sunny day, a fleet of yachts departed the Tacoma Yacht Club as part of the Rangers’ Regatta. The day, focused on fundraising for the Rangers and their families, was also an opportunity to spend some quality time, standing shoulder to shoulder, with some of best soldiers the United States has at its disposal.

Team members from BoldIQ, an event sponsor, enjoyed sharing a day off from daily optimization work, with the Rangers and their hosts from the Tacoma Yacht Club.

CouldTweaks Q&A with BoldIQ CEO: How Smart Will Your City Be by 2025?

Image Credit: NASA

What role does back end infrastructure play in connecting IoT devices?

Probably the same infrastructure as we would want to see with an efficient regular (i.e. non-IoT) network of resources. As our world becomes increasingly interconnected and reliant upon convenience-based, on-demand services like Lyft, GrubHub or Amazon Prime, it’s inevitable that more companies will follow suit and join the “gig-economy”. In fact, it’s projected that currently 3 out of every 10 US-based employees are actively “employed” by the gig-economy. However, in order to support life on-demand as companies’ scale, they must also evaluate their back end infrastructure which supports our IoT-driven lives to ensure its as efficient as possible. By “efficient” I mean ensuring that all assets – whether cars, people, or machines – are running as optimized as possible within the confines of the network they are operating as a part of. While it’s reassuring that your Uber call will results in rapid response, having it be due to there being multiple Ubers buzzing around your house when you try and catch a ride, is not reassuring at all. In fact, it’s a sign of inefficiency or too much supply for the given demand. While great for the rider and for Uber, not so great for the drivers or society as a whole. In an optimized – and ideal – world, all of the connected “things” would meet demand with the appropriate supply, eliminating inefficiencies. While not a realistic expectation, closing the gap and coming close to it, is a real possibility.

How will advanced IoT-based technology be used to construct smart cities?

You can think of the Internet of Things in two ways. First, you have what the end user is experiencing, like a smartphone, watch or car, these are what we currently refer to as the “things” in IoT. However, as we begin to construct smart cities, these connected “things” will expand beyond what lives in the hands of the consumer. We’ll begin to have connected devices in stop signs, light signals, buildings, etc., and these infrastructure-based “things” will help the city become more intelligent. Cars will communicate with street lights, drones and delivery bots will communicate with buildings, consumer devices will interact with street signs – all with the goal of creating a highly efficient system fueled by connectivity. While each ‘thing’ in this smart city will be able to provide and receive data, it will be the city hub, the ‘smart’ in smart city, that will be able to make rapid, intelligent and informed decisions on what driverless car goes where and when, what bot does what, and so on.

What are the challenges or barriers to widespread adoption?

The biggest barrier to adoption is the actual adoption itself. People by nature are risk averse. More so government organizations in which these cities will exist. Assuming things will in fact go wrong in the early years of smart city and IoT technology adoption, not many are willing to be first movers, take the risk, and lead the way for the rest. If you want to make a city smart, it means you have to have buy-in from all pertinent parties – municipalities, local government, citizens, companies, etc. Without participation from every key player within the city, there’s no feasible way that a city can move forward on its path to becoming smart. This paired with a mindset that is open to take some risk and try new things – like Kansas recently announcing it would be testing the use of drones to map traffic – are the areas that will be most progressive.

What cities will be early adopters/innovators?

Contrary to popular belief, the epicenter of smart city technology is going to happen within rural areas first. Why? Less risk. As new technologies like drones and autonomous vehicles quickly become a reality, we’ll see more rural areas – like the Kansas drone example noted above – that allow the technology developers to more readily and safely test the technology. While San Francisco, Dubai and Singapore are certainly progressive and will likely harness smart city technology, due to the proliferation of people, cars, buildings and other obstructions, smart city technology will emerge first and foremost in rural areas.

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There’s A Lot of ‘Buzz’ on the Promise of Drone Delivery, But What’s Next?

Image Credit: MyDroneLab

In an attempt to shed some light on the development and readiness of disruptive drone technology, The Fast Mode had an email interview with the CEO and President of BoldIQ, Roei Ganzarski to give his opinion on drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Read the interview, conducted below:

Q: What do you believe to be the most promising way drones will be leveraged for delivery?

A: Drones are poised to change the game completely over the next few years. As drone technology advances, I believe we will see three mainline uses:

Replace some of the ‘last mile’ routes traditionally fulfilled with drivers in trucks and vans, thus resulting in increased efficiency across the board. Imagine drones working in tandem with other next gen technologies like autonomous vehicles to optimize delivery fleets. These vans will likely be equipped with drones that deploy to deliver one-off packages, optimizing the driver’s daily route while simultaneously reducing operating costs. Companies such as FedEx and UPS, which already have great distribution networks and infrastructure in place, will have a huge leg up on potential competitors looking to enter the drone marketplace.

Replace long and remote delivery routes. Think of a drone taking a package 50-100 miles into a rural area, away from any of the closest other deliveries to be made. An efficient drone system could save significant costs and create efficiency for other modes of delivery.

Two-way delivery of information during, for example, accidents, emergency situations, flooding, fires, etc., where real-time accurate data is crucial to life saving and business needs. Take for example a fire in a remote home. A drone could be there very rapidly (no traffic, roads to slow down, etc.) and take photos that could be transmitted back to the fire trucks enroute so they are better prepared; photos could be sent to the insurance company to start the claim; the drone could record (including voice) human activity including location, injuries etc. and transmit back to EMT enroute and at the same time transmit information to the people about what to do, where a safe location might be, etc. You could imagine a similar scenario and response during a flash flood, earthquake, plane crash in the wilderness and more.

Q: When will this happen and what cities will be first to capitalize on the benefits?

A: We have already seen the start of drone deliveries but it likely won’t become truly widespread and accepted until 2025. Over the next seven years, we’ll begin to see an overall increase in this new vehicle for deliveries but a large portion of these test runs, followed by operational deployments, will be heavily focused in rural areas where the safety risks are smaller and logistics are much simpler to manage. Contrary to popular belief, dense metro areas present numerous challenges and risks – think traffic, privacy issues, power lines, high-rise buildings, sudden wind gusts, and crowded streets below.

Instead of thinking about smart urban cities, we should shift our focus, at least for drones initially, to smart rural areas. It’s much more likely we’ll see drones used to deliver common goods like food and medication to remote homes and offices versus a busy suburb. Instead of a consumer driving over an hour one-way into town to pick up a prescription, they could choose to have it delivered by drone. Autonomous vehicles and drones could, and should, even partner for optimal efficiency while delivering packages– companies like UPS and Mercedes are already testing a self-driving van and drone combination for the ultimate rural delivery challenge solution. Meanwhile, cities will shift their attention to small, and less risky sidewalk bots to help enable the ‘life on-demand’ luxury in metro areas.

The first cities after rural areas will be flat by nature and less dense. Drones flying around skyscrapers in the middle of ‘downtown’ will be the last to be implemented.

Q: What are the major pitfalls or barriers to widespread adoption?

A: Prior to these services becoming a reality, we need to take on and fix the inherent implementation challenges. Some of these concerns – the ones we should be focusing on sooner rather than later – relate to the deployment of these technologies once they are proven to be safe for flight. Before they can become common to everyday living, live operational testing must take place to ensure we can deploy these technologies without an overcrowded sky or roads congested with driverless cars. If regulations aren’t set in place at the forefront, a potential hiccup during a single fleet deployment could completely overshadow the potential benefits from these technologies.

To set forth regulations and do it right, we need to start thinking about a higher-level network connecting drones, driverless vehicles and other autonomous technologies. This means taking a look at how they should be deployed, managed, and used so not only individual consumers can experience the benefits of these technologies, but society can move into the next generation of deliveries. We need to think strategically about which services are implanted, and where to best utilize each innovation.

Q: What excites you most about the potential future of drone delivery?

A: What really excites me about drone deliveries (both physical goods and information) is the impact it can bring to society as a whole, if done right.

If done and managed as a network, drone delivery could significantly reduce the number of vehicles on our roads. This means less congestion, less pollution, less accidents, less cost.

In this scenario, drone delivery could significantly increase the quality of our day to day lives – better, faster, and more applicable emergency response, decision making, and services.

If implemented and managed as a network, drone delivery would need less drones in the sky than what anyone may be imagining. Again, less congestion, less pollution, less accidents, less cost. Finally, drone delivery will enable new types of companies and services to be created; companies that today are not possible due to logistical reasons, or are not available to smaller organizations or even startups due to cost constraints. It will truly be a whole new world.

Q: On the telecommunications front, how will autonomous commercial drones change the way operators can leverage the technology for inspecting wireless infrastructure?

A: In my opinion, the use of drones in the telecommunications arena will be similar to that of the electrical utility or oil and gas and will fit nicely in the ‘delivery of data’ use I mentioned earlier. Be it a wired telco network, or a wireless one, as the networks expand, the cables, lines, and antenna, will be placed in more and more remote areas so that coverage is seamless. However, even though the technology from the user’s perspective may be wireless, from the telco’s perspective it is still very much hardware that will need to be routinely inspected, moreover after a storm, earthquake, etc. Drones will provide a perfect solution for this. Why send a technician and vehicle out to a remote location to inspect something that needs manual work done? Send a drone to take photos, video, etc. that can be streamed live back to a user (as needed) and determine only then if a person actually needs to be dispatched. This will allow more locations to be inspected, maintained, and repaired in a shorter timeframe. The same model works for power lines, cable lines, etc. A drone flying at high speed with a good sensor can find a downed power line faster than dispatching people to look for it. Moreover, the drone could alert people about hazards on the way or the surrounding area to reduce safety risks.

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BoldIQ featured in the LA Times

Can the flying car, the Uber of the air, become a reality, saving you time and money? By Judy Mandell – L.A. Times

Picture this: You download an app that directs you to the top of a nearby building, where you hop on a flying car.

Is this ride-hailing experience — something like Uber — the wave of the transportation future? Could it save you time and, thus, money?

Roei Ganzarski, chief executive of BoldIQ, a Seattle-based software company, and previously chief customer officer for Boeing’s flight services division, contends that it is just a matter of time before helicopters are replaced with safer, more efficient, lower-cost, pilotless flying machines.

Those, he thinks, will rapidly be followed by consumer-based air taxis.

I asked Ganzarski to offer his insights on the implementation of air taxis and how they will transform everyday travel.

How and why will this type of air taxi revolutionize the way we travel?

Ground transportation is limited to the road infrastructure. Even with smarter cars driving closer together on the road, you are limited by where these roads go and how.

With an air taxi service (and a true vertical takeoff and landing, where a rooftop, grass lawn, or beach can serve as a landing), the sky is literally the limit.

Air travel is multidimensional. If a direct path from point A to B is full, taxis can simply go up or down 500 feet and the same path may now be empty.

The ability to be creative and productive while being very efficient is what this type of system provides.

This is assuming, of course, that it is indeed set up efficiently and not how ground transport is today: wasteful and inefficient.

Which tech companies and manufacturers will compete in this air taxi market?

Traditional aviation companies like Boeing or Airbus will certainly try, as well as car companies. However, the most successful parties will most likely be either a “Google” that is able to think differently and move fast or a new entrant that is not bound by anything.

That is for the hardware. A software able to manage this real-time, on-demand transport system is also needed.

Will this type of travel be affordable for everyday business/pleasure travelers?

Like all new technology, it will initially be limited to very high-worth individuals like corporate executives.

Just as the first automobiles and airplanes were first used by the wealthy and then the masses, air taxis will initially follow this pattern.

With time, it will become commonplace.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see initial short flights priced in the $250-$350 range, for example, flying from a rooftop in Manhattan to Queens, New Jersey or Valley Stream, or downtown San Francisco to a home in Palo Alto (or split that between passengers to pay $50-$100 a person), eventually dropping down even to tens of dollars for short rides.

How will all of this work?

You will ask to go from point A to B using your watch, head-worn mic or other form of communication that will make the smartphones and apps as we know them obsolete.

A central scheduling engine will evaluate your requests against the relevant resources (transport vehicles, rooftops, number of vehicles in the air, etc.) and make an intelligent decision on which vehicle can and should pick you up and then where, when and how it will get you to your destination. This plan will be continuously updated in real time as factors change around you.

Will it clog the airways?

Only if you think about airways in the very old way of thinking about them — as roads in the sky.

Oh, wait…that is how we think today. People, industries and governments will have to (and be able to) think about air travel in a different way than today.

And with the right software managing the network, there will be no clogging.

Who will be allowed to fly these planes?

Really smart software … you don’t want people at the controls.

When will it happen?

I believe we will see this type of service in place in the next 10 years.

In a way, this service could be in place now using helicopters, and yet we have not seen it take off — pun intended.

However, as the technology for the aircraft is developed, costs are lowered, the pilotless technology is proven and intelligent scheduling software takes hold, the paradigm shift will happen.

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