Drones could soon be answering the emergency call, according to Kiwi professor

neighborhood patrol drone by Auckland University of Technology's centre for artificial intelligence research

[Editor’s Note: Professor Wai Yeap, the head of Auckland University of Technology’s centre for artificial intelligence research (CAIR), hopes that his drone, currently a prototype, will be able to do neighborhood patrols.]

This post originally appeared on http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/86256163/drones-may-answer-the-emergency-call-according-to-kiwi-professor.

Self-piloting drones controlled by artificial intelligence could be used as emergency responders by as early as next year, according to an Auckland University of Technology professor.

Drones will soon be delivering hot pizza, mapping and possibly even providing internet for remote areas currently beyond the internet’s reach.

Now Professor Wai Yeap, the head of Auckland University of Technology’s centre for artificial intelligence research (CAIR), is testing a drone prototype which he hopes will be able to carry out neighbourhood patrols and even work as first responders alongside ambulance staff.

Institute of Directors chief executive Simon Arcus.

Institute of Directors chief executive Simon Arcus.

However, Institute of Directors chief executive Simon Arcus warned artificial intelligence presents a risk to the workforce that needs closer scrutiny from Government.

Drones can currently be used by remote by a human or directed by GPS guidance, but haven’t been able to be programmed to act on their own accord or react to events.

Yeap is at the forefront of artificial intelligence research in New Zealand, and with a $10,000 drone, imported from Germany, plans to test an algorithm that if successful would have many uses, from mapping, community patrolling and emergency services.

Image of prototype pizza delivery drone.

Image of prototype pizza delivery drone.

Yeap believes the technology would allow the drone to find a person in a forest by showing just a picture of person.

“I could tell it go five miles north and up this river and come back.”

Albert Wang from AUT University pictured with one of the new age smart drones soon to be patrolling our skies.

LAWRENCE SMITH / FAIRFAX NZ

Albert Wang from AUT University pictured with one of the new age smart drones soon to be patrolling our skies.

Yeap said he saw opportunity in rescue circumstances, citing the Pike River Mine disaster of 2010 in which 29 men were killed.

“We could use it for something like that to find a missing person,” Yeap said.

The culmination of 40 years of study, Yeap says he had been thinking about doing this since he got his doctorate.

This month, the Institute of Directors and law firm Chapman Tripp recommended a Government working group look into the risk of artificial intelligence to jobs.

In a call to action paper, it highlighted the risks, opportunities and challenges that artificial intelligence presents.

Institute chief executive Simon Arcus said it was time we as a society had a discussion about the role we want drones to play in our future.

“AI is still something a Government needs to consider the implications of – from security to privacy and the economic impacts as well.

“To what extent that can replace human capability is yet to be seen.”

Arcus said it was important that the efficiencies created by artificial intelligence don’t leave people “with no jobs and no future”.

This week, Facebook’s chief technology officer Mike Schroepfer outlined a 10 year plan for the social media site, expanding into artificial intelligence and virtual reality.

Facebook has budgeted $5.54 billion dollars to spend, including a self-piloted drone that would provide internet for black spot areas.

Other outfits had also recently announced projects to test the capabilities of artificial intelligence.

Google owned company Deepmind, an artificial-intelligence that emulated human characteristics when playing video games, announced last week it would test the AI’s capabilities by going head to head with one of the best video-gamers at the world’s most complicated video-games, StarCraft II.

Yeap will be giving a lecture in Auckland in two weeks on his research paper Emperor AI, Where Is Your New Mind? which he wrote in 1997, now with all of the progress he has made he plans lecture on his findings over the past 19 years.

He hopes his project will be a “huge step” for science, but says he requires $100,000 to bring his 40 years of research to life.

 – Sunday Star Times

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