RIM and Microsoft join forces to compete with iPhone, Droid
RIM and Microsoft are partnering to make for a pretty impressive alliance. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a surprise keynote speech Tuesday at the BlackBerry World expo in Orlando and announced that the company will integrate its Bing search and map program at the device operating system level. Ballmer says they’re “going to invest uniquely into the BlackBerry platform,” according to reports on PC World.
RIM used the expo to announce new BlackBerry phones, a new OS, and some other fancy features to gear the smartphone hype away from Apple and Android phones back to the original. The much-hyped Microsoft Windows Phone 7 smartphone has been a little less than exciting for avid smartphone users, so the alliance is hoping to create a greater force to compete with the likes of the iPhone and Droid phones.
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According to PC World:
"The integration will allow RIM to focus on its core competencies, rather than developing search and map features--or sending its users over to Google, which builds the Android platform.
"For Microsoft, the deal represents one more platform for Bing to live on. Earlier this year, Microsoft struck a deal with Nokia, which includes a set of phones developed in partnership and due to ship in 2012."
While it seems like a smart move for Microsoft and RIM to buddy up to improve its smartphone market, there’s a reason why iPhones and Droid smartphones have been the dominating forces in the industry. It comes down to usability and aesthetics, and we’re not quite sure that the alliance will ever be able to break through above its competitors.
Dr Peng Wei: Designing the Future of Autonomous 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:
- A 2-year grant from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in conjunction with West Virginia University and Honeywell Aerospace to investigate “learning-based” aviation systems
- A six-month SBIR Phase I NASA award with Intelligent Automation to mitigate airspace congestion at vertiports—the electric craft version of airports.
- A 1-year collaborative grant with the University of Virginia and George Mason University from the Virginia Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI) to develop anti-cyber attack technologies and aviation video systems
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.