If you thought that the future of transportation was just electric cars and autonomous vehicles, well, there’s a push to take things a little higher.
Certainly, gasoline-free, self-driving cars are all the rage right now, and rightfully so. We are deep into the testing phase of cars that reach level four automation (level five means they are fully autonomous).
However, other transportation technologies are aiming to leave the road behind and take occupants above the fray of cars and traffic, delivering them to their destinations through the air versus across the ground.
While the promise of the flying car introduced in Back to the Future Part II may have missed the mark by a few years, the next decade will see a revolution unlike any since humans first took flight.
What is a Flying Taxi?
Traditionally, the term flying taxi is often confused with established transportation services known as Air Taxis. The latter evokes smallish airplanes or helicopters that shuttle occupants short distances, city to city, usually from one airport to another.
The modern iteration on a flying taxi, however, takes the terminology of a short-haul flight to a whole new level.
What makes the flying taxi concept both unique and potentially viable in a modern setting is the ability for the aircraft to take off and land anywhere – no airport is necessary.
Thanks to vertical ascent and descent capabilities the aircraft currently being tested are more akin to helicopters, but the design isn’t merely limited to well-known methods of flight. In fact, some prototypes now resemble oversized drones and gondola cabs with an array of small rotors attached to the roof.
Many of the designs carry only a handful of riders – from as few as two up to between five and seven, not including the pilot for the non-autonomous concepts. Indeed crewless flight is still one to two decades away, but much like the driverless automobile the drive for flying taxis to one day be pilotless is an aggressive one.
The small size though is the key to the technology proving a significant addition to an already crowded transportation network. So too is the plan for many of these crafts to be electric, eliminating the noise and nuisance of a gas powered engine.
In rising above gridlocked avenues and streets, flying taxis would utilize every aspect of the urban setting. From the ground level (in some areas) to the airspace in between or just above a cities mid and high rise buildings to the rooftops of those same structures, the tech would undoubtedly make the most of its operational field. Most proposals call for those rooftops to transition into launch and landing pads for the taxi network.
An actual airborne taxi service to get occupants from point A to point B within a densely packed city won’t just stop at the city limits though. There are also plans that would expand that reach, flying short haul, low occupant flights between closely networked cities.
Places within an hour’s drive of each other such as Dallas to Fort Worth or Baltimore to Washington DC are obvious candidates. However, taxi flights also offer the opportunity to bridge locales like Boston and New York or Los Angeles and San Francisco.
More Than Just Flying Cars
While on paper the whole enterprise seems ridiculously cool and simple enough, the reality is something different.
Uber, the peer to peer ridesharing behemoth, is one of the most visible players in the race to get the flying taxi up and running with its Elevate and UberAir programs.
In partnership with space agency NASA, Uber is working towards their taxis taking flight in 2020 in Dallas-Fort Worth, Los Angeles, and Dubai. It’s an aggressive goal considering that Uber remains in the design phase and have yet to produce an actual working, to scale prototype.
But they are undeterred.
Jeff Holden, head of product at Uber, has said, “there’s been a great deal of progress that’s been hard to see from the outside because a lot of this is just hard work at the drafting table.”
He goes on the to note, “we feel really good. It’s been a really interesting process getting our vehicle manufacturing partners aligned on performance specifications so that they’re building vehicles that align with what we need to make Elevate successful. So lots of good progress there.”
Expanding upon the ideas of their uncrewed traffic management protocols or UTM, NASA helps to nail down the infrastructure side of the endeavor.
The UTM system is currently helping to corral the unruly nature of the growing drone industry. In theory, NASA’s UTM would lead to the creation of an entirely new system of air traffic control to guide the taxi flights.
Although the push for localized flying transports has yet to generate the same publicity as that of their earthbound automobile counterparts, Uber is far from the only player in the field. More than 15 different companies are working towards similar goals, and in many cases, a lot of investment dollars are flowing into these efforts to get them off the ground.
For example, Kitty Hawk is a startup owned and fully funded by Larry Page, co-founder of Google. Kitty Hawk is currently testing a recreational hovercraft in New Zealand meant to dovetail into their flying taxi program over the next three years.
Others companies wanting to get in on the action include aviation heavyweights Boeing and Airbus.
Boeing bought Aurora Flight Service Corporation late last year to give both their commercial and military programs in electric and autonomous flight a shot in the arm. Greg Hyslop, the Chief Technology Office for Boeing noted the deal reflects that the “the aerospace industry is going to be changing” and Boeing is aiming to be ready “for whatever that future may be.”
For their part, Airbus made a similar deal, with an investment in startup Blade, which already boasts a charter flight business that is, ironically enough, often cast as the Uber of charters. This in addition to Airbus’ in-house Vahana program.
Elsewhere, showing off at CES 2018 in Las Vegas, was an 18 rotor vehicle called the Volocopter, that until recently was flying around in the futuristic desert playground of Dubai, running test flights.
Straight out of a sci-fi movie, the Volocopter is a German designed pilotless drone that one must really see to believe and appreciate.
Dubai also has a partnership with Chinese firm EHang, whose own ambitions for flying taxis stems from the automation and delivery via drone aircraft of organ transplant materials.
Even part and component manufacturers are playing a pivotal role in making the sci-fi of flying vehicles real.
British engine maker Rolls-Royce has a propulsion system in development for use in flying taxis. They hope to have it available sometime within the next decade.
And yes, some auto manufacturers are getting into the game with Porsche in the early stages of exploring the possibility.
Just How Viable Is A Flying Vehicle?
As with any new technology, growing pains exist. Flying cars are no different. There will almost certainly be a level of turbulence before the population fully embraces the latest tech and its scalable for the masses.
Consider the now ubiquitous iPhone is less than 12 years old and was once a curiosity. The prevalence and the advancements of the device made in just over a decade are definitely remarkable. The hope is that a flying taxi can follow a similar fast-track path to success.
Of course, airborne taxis are a completely different realm. As much as humanity is yearning to see a car fly – and practically – it’s another thing when you ask those same people to take a ride. It will require a convincing sales pitch for commuters to trust a machine that has onboard parachutes as part of its standard equipment.
However, with cities more crowded and street-level gridlock a constant complaint of urban dwellers, it’s not difficult to envision city skies filled with swarms of on-demand taxis.
The CEO of Volocopter, Florian Reuter summarizes the ease of use autonomous flight offers. “Implementation would see you using your smartphone, having an app, and ordering a volocopter to the next voloport near you. The volocopter would come and autonomously pick you up and take you to your destination,” he said.
Discounting that level of simplicity and convenience is hard.
As cool as it all sounds, flying taxis – even with actual testing happening as we speak – remain a construct of the future. We noted that many of the target dates for these aerial taxi programs run between 2020 and 2030. For some, those timelines are highly ambitious.
Even those whose entire reputation derives from their lofty ambitions.
Elon Musk mused to Bloomberg during a recent interview his thoughts on flying cars, and it was less than favorable. “Obviously, I like flying things. But it’s difficult to imagine the flying car becoming a scalable solution,” he said.
Uber’s Holden, however, disagrees. “We’ve studied this carefully and we believe it is scalable,” he noted, also casting Musk’s comments as “off the cuff” and “random.”
Regardless of if it can actually happen anytime within the next few years, many are banking on it simply being a matter of time before we are living with the daily sight of flying taxi services buzzing over our heads.
While the initial product may prove a bit different from the original vision, few will argue should one of the longest held fantasies of future progress finally come true.
Written by – Anna Kučírková
Copyright Law And Digital Media
In simple terms, a copyright law is used to protect original content. Covering a wide range of categories, copyright law gives ownership rights to the person who created the work. Broadly classified, a copyright can be created in the following fields:
- Literary works
- Musical works
- Dramatic works
- Pictorial, graphic and sculptural works
- Motion pictures and other audiovisuals works
- Sound recordings
- Architectural works
- Computer Programs
When you own the copyrights to any of the works belonging to the above areas, it essentially means you have the right to distribute, sell or claim the ownership rights of the content. Furthermore, a copyright also enables you to prepare content similar to the original work in a new form, thereby claiming your rights on the content at the same time.
What does the copyright law in India entail?
According to the Indian Copyright Act, 1975, copyrights do not just protect the idea as an entity but the representation of the idea as a whole.
Under Section 14 of the Indian Copyright Act of 1975, ownership over the original product is credited to the creator and no one else. Furthermore, as per Sections 17, 29 and 52, the Copyright Act also provides the owner of the original content complete authority over the final product. Amended five times since its inception in 1975, the Copyright Act lets people use the content, when royalty is paid to the initial creator, with due recognition being given as well.
When does infringement occur and how do you prevent it?
In most environments, content that is generated for public viewing is put out into the world with the simple thought process that if this content is reused, prior permission from the original creators will be taken. However, when this does not happen, it results in copyright infringement.
When infringement like this occurs, it is important to keep in mind the rules required to protect yourself during a time like this.
- Identify the infringer as soon as the problem arises
The moment you realise your content is being duplicated and your content is being used without permission, bring it to the notice of the infringer immediately. Earlier, because of the absence of technology, it was harder to reach out to the person. However, the internet has made things extremely easy now. Websites like WHOIS and Internet Domain Name Search can be used to identify the perpetrator as soon as the crime happens.
- Contact the person once he or she has been identified
The moment you identify the person in question, contact them and ask them to take down the content. Send them a threat free and to the point email, stating that if the content isn’t removed within a stipulated time period, you will take them to court if needed. In addition, when you are sending the person the mail, make sure you have all the documentation required to prove you are the original owner of the said content.
- Notify the individual of your next step
Once you have notified the person and there still has not been an improvement in the situation, it is time to go the legal route. Let the person in question know you are going to send them a cease and desist, a move which legally notifies the person they have no choice but to take down the content in question.
- Use Section 51 of the Copyright Act to claim your rights
If you have gone through these multiple steps and still are not able to get back your content from the perpetrator, it is time to use Section 51 of the Copyright Act. As per the rules of this act, the person wronged can approach a court and ask for legal action to be taken against the person in question. Usually used as a final step of sorts, this step is to ensure everything you own rightfully belongs to you and you alone.
The rules of copyright law protect the final content put out into the world. What is not protected is the discussion, the ideas and the creation of this content by other people. In the broad sense of the word, this act is essential to protect monetization rights by the owners of the content, ensuring other people do not use your creations and call it their own. Furthermore, while it is okay for things to be discussed and talked about in a public forum, it is not okay to claim ownership rights. When you realise your words, ideas, music and videos are being used by other people, raise a complaint and let the person in question know it is not acceptable to steal your work. Know your rights and run into the fire with guns blazing. Stay protected, stay safe.
All You Need To Know About Anil Kumble’s AI Enabled Power Bat
Anil Kumble’s Spektacom Technologies, in partnership with Microsoft, has just developed a brand new Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled Power Bat. With the ability to collect data required for every shot hit and the details displayed both to the audience and the players, the new bat is aimed at making cricket an increasingly interesting sport! The basic aim of the new Power Bat is to increase engagement between both the audience and the coaches, giving players the chance to improve their game by leaps and bounds!
— Microsoft India (@MicrosoftIndia) October 11, 2018
A unique concept, the Power Bat has a Microsoft Azure Sphere sticker on its shoulder, whereby as soon as the batsman hits the ball, data on a wide range of parameters like speed on impact, twist on impact and quality of the shot are recorded, captured and processed. This processing and capturing is enabled with the help of a new measurement called Power Speks. The date derived from the Power Bat can be recorded during coaching and practice matches, giving the players a chance to improve their performance during the actual game.
“Our vision is to bring sports closer to fans through interesting ways of engagement using real time sports analytics. At the same time, it is important that the technologies used are seamless and do not disrupt the game or obstruct the players,” Anil Kumble said while talking about the new Power Bat. He further added, “With Microsoft, we have been able to create a secure and effective solution, and with Star India, we have a partner that can stimulate and excite fan engagement.”
Anil Kumble and Microsoft came together to redefine the way people played this much loved sport with this game changing bat! The Power Bat was revealed a couple of days ago and it is already touted to be the game changer for cricket as a sport by 2019!
Speaking about the collaboration, Anil Kumble tweeted,
— Anil Kumble (@anilkumble1074) October 11, 2018
The CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella also replied to Anil Kumble in a tweet
Bringing the power of Azure, AI and Azure Sphere to cricket, transforming how the game is played, coached and watched. https://t.co/uZOl0uS3sI
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) October 14, 2018
Facebook Rolls Out New Safety Measures
It goes without saying that when you put your thoughts out into the world, you deserve to feel safe and when this safety is attacked, your mental health may get affected. Facebook, a platform for promoting your thoughts and ideas, has moved from being a purely interactive social media platform to a place where trolls and trollers rule the roost. To protect its more than 2 billion regular user base, Facebook has passed new tools and tweaked its settings to act against the bullies.
Delete, moderate and remove negative comments
“Do not feed the trolls,” is what people have always said. How often does one listen to the wise sayings of the people with experience? Never, right? If a bear pokes you, you cannot help but poke back and this is how negativism breeds on a constant basis on Facebook. To counter this growing trend of hatred, Facebook is going to give its users more control over the comments.
Sharing more details about last week’s security issue for developers using Facebook Login: https://t.co/gtKc3Jm7Z2
— Facebook (@facebook) October 2, 2018
Now, not only can you hide multiple comments, you can also delete them with the click of a button. The new feature is going to be rolled out on desktops, Android and iOS versions. Furthermore, if you think a family member or friend is being bullied, harassed or abused, you can report the said post on behalf of the friend or family member. Once reported, the Community Operations team will take a look at the post and decide the required action on the basis of Facebook’s rules and regulations.
To simplify matters, if you think the decision taken by the Committee is not what you thought it would be (both for the person who raised the complaint and the person against whom the complaint has been made,) you can make an appeal and the Committee will decide accordingly.
Protection of not just individual users, but celebrities as well
So far, Facebook has allowed people to talk, criticize and discuss about celebrities and the things they have said and done, without any regard to the person’s well being. Now, Facebook is working on protecting these celebrities by making sure no celebrity on the platform is personally and negatively attacked.
Previously, Facebook had introduced a tool that protected celebrities up to a certain age. However, to improve the safety standards, the social media platform is now expanding its policies to protect celebrities without age as a barrier. With Facebook’s new tools, anyone experiencing things they do not want to on Facebook can now report, block the user and ignore the messages without letting the harasser know.
Taking safety one step forward, Facebook is going to start a new partnership with the National Parent Teachers Association in the United States and will organise over 200 community events to address the challenges faced by parents in all the states. Further, Facebook is also going to offer peer to peer anti bullying and safety programs to schools in the United Kingdom. By organising and supporting safety programs in India, Facebook is spreading the message of improving the standards of online safety in all the countries where this social media platform is used on a regular basis.
Overall Facebook Rating
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