Fifty-five years ago, the Jetsons made flying cars look like our future, and one of the many “Back to the Future” sequels once again dangled the possibility.
Tech giant Intel now wants to make the idea a reality — soon.
The company’s German partner, Volocopter, flew its 18-rotor air taxi for the first time on U.S. soil Monday night at Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s CES 2018 keynote event in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The Volocopter VC200 is essentially a large drone that people can sit in, but the company hopes the oversized drone will soon start offering autonomous air taxi rides. Imagine pulling out your phone and, instead of requesting an Uber or Lyft, you summon a giant drone to come sweep you away and deliver you to your destination.
Right now, the Volocopter can manage a flight time of 30 minutes and a maximum range of 17 miles, though they say the batteries can be quickly replaced to go farther until the tech improves.
Though not exactly the first flying taxi on the block, Volocopter’s partnership with Intel will no doubt put some air beneath its wings. The company also currently has a partnership with the transit authority in Dubai to test its air taxis and hopes to launch a commercial pilot program in the early 2020s.
The Volocopter was Intel’s most eye-catching achievement, but the tech company also debuted a number of other products and services as part of a comprehensive look at what data can accomplish.
Intel True VR
Virtual reality is no longer just for the video game world. If you’ve always wanted to know what it’s like to watch a sports match as the athlete on the field — strap on a VR headset. Intel will place multiple cameras along one side or along the perimeter of an arena, then use complex software to stitch the output together, giving viewers the opportunity to watch the game from any angle they choose.
The VR headset also gives viewers the ability to watch multiple games at once — if you’re into that sort of thing.
Intel jumped into the race Monday night with its first autonomous car in its 100-vehicle test fleet.
The car has 12 cameras, radars, laser scanners and computing technologies from Mobileye and Intel. There are three high-resolution cameras at the front that give the car a 180-degree field of view and allow the vehicle’s image processor to see at a distance of up to 300 meters.
Intel announced the opening of a Los Angeles-based studio space dedicated to the production of virtual reality, augmented reality and other cutting-edge content.
Intel Studios is now the world’s largest stage for volumetric video capture inside a 10,000 square-feet dome that will record the action in volumetric 3-D, giving directors the ability to cut to any angle within a scene of action.
Intel has partnered with Paramount Pictures to turn the tech over to creative hands.
Loihi AI chip and 49-qubit quantum chip
Loihi is Intel’s first “neuromorphic” chip — meaning, it can mimic the way a human brain learns and understands. It gets smarter over time but, unlike other artificial intelligence systems, doesn’t require massive amounts of training data to do so. It’s Intel’s first foray into the AI chip arena.
Intel also announced the company’s 49-qubit quantum chip, which tackles the still-very-theoretical world of quantum computing, but opens up the possibility for insanely faster processing speeds.