October 31, 2022

Autonomous Aerial Disaster Relief with Head of Engineering Ian Foster

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Have you ever considered the risk to the humans involved in disaster response? Joining us today on How AI Happens is the Head of Engineering at Animal Dynamics Limited, Ian Foster, to discuss the technology they’re developing in the hopes to eradicate human involvement in life-threatening deliveries, rescues, and disaster response.


Ian discusses what unique problems aerial automated vehicles face, how segregations in the air affect flying, how the vehicles land, and how they know where to land. Animal Dynamics' goal is to phase out humans in their technology entirely and Ian explains the human involvement in the process before telling us where he sees this technology fitting in with disaster response in the future. Key Points From This Episode:

  • An introduction to today’s guest, Ian Foster.
  • A brief overview of Ian’s background and how he ended up at Animal Dynamics.
  • Ian shares the mission of Animal Dynamics and how that’s being carried out.
  • What the delivery mechanism is and what the technology is delivering.
  • Why air is best for this kind of delivery and why it’s best not to use pilots.
  • The challenges in an aerial automated vehicle.
  • How segregations in the air affect this technology and how they’re combatting these issues.
  • Ian tells us which is more difficult: to park a car autonomously or land a plane autonomously.
  • How their vehicles land themselves.
  • How they are training the technology to notice safe landing zones.
  • How humans come into this AI technology and why they’re being phased out slowly.
  • What Ian thinks the future and long-term opportunities are for Animal Dynamic’s technology.

Tweetables:“Drawing inspiration from the natural world to help address problems is very much the ethos of what Animal Dynamics is all about.” — Ian Foster “Data for autonomous aircraft is definitely a big challenge, as you might imagine.” — Ian Foster We're not aiming to just jump straight to full autonomy from day one. We operate safely within a controlled environment. As we prove out more aspects of the system performance, we can grow that envelope and then prove out the next level.” — Ian Foster “Ultimately, the desire is that the systems basically look after themselves and that humans are only involved in telling the thing where to go, and then the rest is delivered autonomously.” — Ian Foster “The important thing for us is to get out there and start making a difference to people. So we need to find a pragmatic and safe way of doing that.” — Ian Foster


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