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2012 Session Notes

Drones, Tractors, and Beyond: There's a Robot in Your Future

Mary "Missy" Cummings, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
in conversation with Chris Anderson, Editor in Chief, WIRED

We don’t have the solution for that. But just stand by.

  1. There were 2 things that made me realize that my job as a fighter pilot was at jeopardy. The missiles were always better than the pilots. And the computer could land it better than me.
  2. We just don’t have the man power to do the farming work we need. One of the big up-and-coming technologies is crop dusting.
  3. Next Big Thing: Unmanned John Deer tractors. If you’ve never seen a John Deer tractor, they have a lot of entertainment devices because they’re really boring.
  4. Automation can help make the carrier flight deck safer. Humans are doing a pretty good job with these right now, but they do even better with some algorithms.
  5. I’m working with the government on a helicopter that will respond to anyone with an iPhone who is in need of an emergency. This will be useful for soldiers on the field.
  6. When will commercial aircraft be unmanned? There’s no such thing. You’ll always need somebody on-board to take care of unruly, drunk passengers.