May 19, 2020

Airbnb launches platform that will connect hosts with refugees

Hospitality
humanitarian
anna smith
1 min
Airbnb launches platform that will connect hosts with refugees

Online hospitality service Airbnb has launched a service that allows hosts to provide free housing to displaced people in an effort to alleviate the global refugee crisis.  

Airbnb currently operates in nearly 200 countries – anyone who lives in these countries can advertise free space to refugees uprooted by war, persecution or natural disasters.

Airbnb co-founder Joe Gebbia said: “We realised that we could take this thing to a whole 'nother level simply by shifting from being reactive to being proactive.”

The company insists that it is not profiting from the platform and relief organisations that have partnered with Airbnb will assist with the matching process. Airbnb typically receives a three percent share of host earning – Gebbia said it won’t on the new platform. He also expects that many more people, including those who don’t use the sight currently, will sign up.

Last year, Canada received almost 24,000 refugee claims last year, up from just over 16,000 the year before, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Research from the UN Refugee Agency found there are 65.3 million forcibly displaced people around the world. The agency predicts that over 1.19 million refugees will be in resettlement in 2017.

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Jun 16, 2021

Dr Peng Wei: Designing the Future of Autonomous Aircraft

NASA
Sustainability
IATA
Airbus
3 min
NASA has announced that it will fund a new project, headed by Dr Peng Wei, to develop safety management systems for autonomous electric aircraft

Air traffic is expected to double by 2037. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the world will need 37,000+ new passenger and freight aircraft, and more than half a million new pilots—unless we come up with another solution. Right now, a George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science professor, Dr Peng Wei, is starting to research autonomous electric aircraft design. 

 

NASA will fund the research, which will study how to minimise risks for electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL). As Airbus states: ‘Autonomous technologies also have the potential to improve air traffic management, enhance sustainability performance and further improve aircraft safety’. 

 

Who is Dr Wei? 

An assistant professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Dr Wei has researched aircraft control, optimisation, and AI and ML applications in aviation. Over the next three years, he’ll lead the US$2.5mn NASA grant project in collaboration with researchers from Vanderbilt, the University of Texas at Austin, and MIT’s Lincoln Lab

 

Why is His Research Important? 

Even though the wide adoption of self-piloting cars, much less aircraft, is still far down the road, technologies that Dr Wei and his colleagues are researching will form the commercial transport of the future. But aviation manufacturers, in order to produce autonomous aircraft, will have to meet extremely high safety standards. 

 

‘The key challenge for self-piloting capabilities is how the system reacts to unforeseen events’, said Arne Stoschek, Wayfinder Project Executive at Acubed. ‘That’s the big jump from automated to autonomous’. In the air, AI-piloted aircraft will have to manoeuvre around adverse weather conditions, such as wind and storms, and other high-altitude risks, such as GPS hacking, cyberattacks, and aircraft degradation. And the stakes are high.

 

‘If a machine learning algorithm makes a mistake in Facebook, TikTok, Netflix —that doesn't matter too much because I was just recommended a video or movie I don't like’, Dr Wei said. ‘But if a machine learning algorithm mistake happens in a safety-critical application, such as aviation or in autonomous driving, people may have accidents. There may be fatal results’. 

 

What Are His Other Projects? 

In addition to the new NASA research, Dr Wei has been awarded three other grants to pursue AI-piloted aircraft: 

 

 

Research like NASA and Dr Wei’s three-year programme will help improve how AI reacts and adapts to challenging air conditions. In coming years, autonomous aircraft will likely take off slowly, starting with small package delivery, then upgraded drones, and finally commercialised aircraft. But congestion issues will worsen until autonomous aircraft are the best alternative. 


According to BBC Future, by 2030, commuters will spend nearly 100 hours a year in Los Angeles and Moscow traffic jams, and 43 cities will be home to more than 10 million people. The final verdict? Bring on the AI-operated transit.

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