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Mo’ drones, mo’ problems that need drone insurance

http://readwrite.com/2016/10/24/as-drone-purchasing-increases-so-does-the-need-for-insurance-pl1/play episode download
25 October, by Cate Lawrence[ —]

The use of drones is evolving from their role in military strikes to support, commercial and recreational roles around the world. These include the use of drones as first responders in Denmark for firefighting, chemical accidents and larger car accidents in urban and over-water environments, shark harvesting in Australia, delivering medical aid in Rwanda and in tests by German lifeguards for sea rescue drowning scenarios.

Then there’s the intended drone delivery services planned by online retailers such as Amazon and the bizarre stunt to deliver beef jerky by drone. Not to mention that almost every start-up tech conference will have a low flying drone or two observing the action.

It would be fair to say that the potential applications of drones in our daily lives are only limited by our imagination. But as the commercial application of drones expands on an almost daily basis we can see evidence of a legal and regulatory minefield that is struggling to keep up with the evolution of drone technology


Setting laws for hobby and commercial drones

The Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) published new regulations in August pertaining to the commercial use of drones. Previously commercial drone operators needed to have a sports pilots license or higher. Now, all you have to do is pass a new aeronautical exam. Under the new rules, operators can’t fly drones higher than 400 feet or at night. The drones must also weigh under 55 pounds and must remain in the visual sight of a human operator — something that prohibits any kind of long-distance drone use, including even the most basic delivery drones. Commercial drones will also only be allowed to operate during daylight hours or civil twilight. Also disallowed are any operations from a moving vehicle — unless you are in a “sparsely populated area.”

Hobbyist and recreational drone users are required to register their drone with the FAA (a mere $5 for 3 years) and adhere to some fairly common sense rules consistent with that of commercial drones like remaining in site of the drone, avoiding aircraft, sports stadiums and emergency response scenarios and not flying under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A technology ripe for insurance claims

However as the use of drones expands, so does the need for insurance. I recently spoke with Sentil Rajamanickam, FSI Strategy & Operations Manager at data analytics company InfoGix about the challenges of underwriting drone insurance. He explained:

“Today, drone insurance underwriting is based on a geospatial map used to determine the likelihood that a drone will have a safe flight. Simply basing underwriting on geospatial mapping can wrongfully calculate the risk of an accident. What if unexpected weather hits or a temporary structure (e.g. construction equipment) gets in the way that isn’t picked up by the mapping?

One inherent flaw we’ve observed with non-traditional insurance, like drone insurance, is that it tends to be driven by past data. Past data doesn’t always accurately predict the future and when something unpredictable happens there is a higher probability of very large losses.”

One way to offset such unpredictable, complex risk underwriting is to leverage risk models that are based on the statistical data across a particular region or country and that constantly correlate risk events with pricing. The challenge for underwriters is that they are limited by the data available for such complex underwriting analysis due to non-scalable management information systems or core systems that cannot support complex data requirements.

The somewhat contradictory situation is that drone insurance metrics can be improved by increased drone flights, where drone users fly drones which record flight paths, height, speed, aerial mapping etc. and can be used as a leverage for the price point of insurance or as a precedent of good ‘flying’ history in the case of future litigation.

Are hobbyists just waiting to get sued?

Rajamanickam cautions that many recreational users may not be aware of the regulations such as the need to register and weight and aerial height regulations and note that “as recreational users are slowly increasing there’s a real need to educate them.” Retailer Best Buy, has posted safety brochures in more than 1,000 stores and Amazon posts links to the Know before you fly website in its retail section. But it’s easy to imagine scenarios where an errant drone user operates the drone upon receipt on their birthday morning only to cause havoc with a neighbour’s garden, pets, windows or small children.  Could a scary scenario, during Halloween this year result in a lawsuit of emotional distrust? Maybe add a clown or two.

Then of  course, there’s the potential for breaches of privacy just waiting for those who operate drones with filming capabilities.  In terms of privacy protection on a national level, there are the Voluntary Best Practice Guidelines issued by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

They essentially warn drone operators to give notice before flying, to secure data that is collected and don’t share it and comply with state and local laws. Note that these are as of yet, only voluntary guidelines.  Yet this could potentially be the biggest catalyst for potential lawsuits, particularly against commercial drone companies who undertake aerial surveillance and filming.

The reality is that the insurance needed by drone operators will evolve as our range of drones and use expands. If you’re planning on buying a drone as a gift for a loved one this Christmas, adding an insurance policy might not be a bad idea.

The post Mo’ drones, mo’ problems that need drone insurance appeared first on ReadWrite.

Smart city project to boost Tallahassee resiliency, urban mobility

http://readwrite.com/2016/10/24/urban-mobility-project-transform-tallahassee-smart-city/play episode download
25 October, by Donal Power[ —]
The old Florida State Capitol building as seen from Monroe St and Apalachee Parkway with the New Capitol in the background

Florida State University (FSU) is partnering with the City of Tallahassee on an urban mobility project that aims to boost smart city resiliency.

According to FSUnews.com the university is working with city officials to enhance Tallahassee’s utilization of current transportation and power systems.

The city is looking to determine how to better handle large-scale civic interruptions like power outages and traffic jams to improve the lives of citizens. The project will ultimately seek to cut traffic congestion, improve mobility across the city and reduce financial losses for local firms.

See also: Architects need to be at the smart city table

“We are starting with using case studies to see where we are and what the current status of mobility is in Tallahassee,” said Reza Arghandeh, an FSU professor instrumental in the project. “From this big picture, we will focus on specific neighborhoods in order to collect data from the site and then implement our algorithms, as we are taking a mathematical approach.  The end goal will be the implementation of our model.”

The team is developing a tool to gather integrated heterogeneous data via social media and other aspects of urban infrastructure. As well, FSU researchers seek to boost citizen participation and build new indices to track urban mobility.

Tallahassee looks for deeper understanding

In order to get a deeper understanding of the city’s urban mobility issues, FSU is collaborating with the city on data analysis via the The Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC). The GCTC supports efforts to economic, social and physical challenges facing today’s cities and is under the auspices of  the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

This urban mobility initiative will become part of the FSU team’s ongoing work under for 100 Resilient Cities, which is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation.

“I think the city needs an efficient, convenient platform,” says Jinghui Hou, another FSU prof instrumental to the project. “That is why we believe that there is a great deal of potential in this mobile application that will engage people and encourage participation through opening up city discussion.”

The post Smart city project to boost Tallahassee resiliency, urban mobility appeared first on ReadWrite.

Dyn DDoS attack sheds new light on the growing IoT problem

25 October, by Ryan Matthew Pierson[ —]

In the wake of the massive DDoS attack on Domain Name System (DNS) provider Dyn, network administrators are tackling with how to better secure their networks against vulnerable IoT devices.

This past Friday, a DDoS attack was carried out targeting a critical point of failure for the Internet. A DNS is a system that translates human-readable domain names into the numerical IP address that direct the flow of traffic to specific servers. It’s basically the Internet’s switchboard operator.

If someone goes wrong at the DNS, browsers and other web-enabled systems will have a difficult time locating the server that hosts the information they need. Because so many websites rely on Dyn to direct this information, a disruption on their servers disrupts many websites at the same time.

This enabled attackers, which in this case appears to be the group “New World Hackers,” to essentially shut down dozens of the Internet’s most popular websites at one time. These sites include Amazon, Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, and more.

IoT: a tool of destruction?

What makes this attack especially troubling are the devices that were used to carry it out. All evidence points to Internet of Things devices as the tool of mayhem.

These devices exist in millions of homes around the United States and countless others worldwide. They include smart appliances like refrigerators, laundry machines, dishwashers, toasters, and more. Home security system and automated thermostats are also prime targets for malicious parties that want to add them to their growing botnets.

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks involve a bunch of compromised systems that have been hijacked and added to a virtual swarm of zombie machines called a botnet. It can be impossible to tell whether or not your devices have been compromised as they work exactly as they normally would.

See also: It was the IoT, screwing Dyn, with the faulty traffic cam

In the case of Friday’s attack, hackers used a piece of malware software called Mirai. This software scans the Internet for IoT devices that have basic security and are usually kept on their default administrative usernames and passwords. This enables the software to gain access to the device, upload its malicious code, and essentially hijack it.

The IoT is expanding rapidly. It’s becoming a common part of commercial networks, used in industrial applications. Smart televisions which are in many homes are actively communicating with the Internet and other devices on home networks around the world. The government uses smart city applications such as traffic sensors and wireless cameras to help municipalities run smoothly.

There are certainly more than a few groups working to help secure the IoT. However, in its current early stage, it is still quite vulnerable.

Solving the problem with IoT

This creates a whole new set of problems that security experts have been actively tackling for years. How do you secure something that is built to be simple to use? Simplicity and security are not great bedfellows. Devices will need more aggressive and solid security features on-board.

The Department of Justice warned of an insecure Internet of Things last month. This came just weeks before the Dyn attack that crippled some of the Internet’s most popular websites. A DDoS attack isn’t the same as a hack that infiltrates systems and compromises their data, but it does shed light on a very real security flaw on countless networks worldwide.

Many IoT devices are capable of being compromised with malware. This puts a compromised system on the same network with home personal computers, corporate servers, and even sensitive government data. Does this mean that your smart toothbrush is going to participate in the next big government email hack? No, but it does mean that maybe one shouldn’t be connected to a government network.

Users are another big obstacle. It’s hard enough to teach the average user to keep their PC’s operating system up-to-date – even when the notification is covering a large portion of their screen. Reminding them to regularly update their toaster is pretty much a lost cause.

So, that leaves us with a temporary and painful solution. Maybe we should think twice before we connect everything and anything to the Internet?

Reigning in the connected consumer madness

Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of great IoT devices out there. I love self-driving cars and I couldn’t imagine life without my smart television.

The problem right now we’re in IoT overload. There are companies out there right now doing everything they can to make every object you interact with a part of the Internet.


Is there really any reason your toilet paper dispenser needs to be connected to the Internet? You can see, very clearly, that the roll is empty. You’re probably sitting there staring at it with the same panicked expression I do before checking the holder to make sure there is another roll at the ready.



Does your piggy bank really need to have a corresponding app that tells you how much is inside? There are plenty of non-Internet connected coin banks that will keep a tally of what’s inside for you without having to interface with your phone or the Internet.

Don’t get me started on smart water bottles. Have we become so distracted as a people that we can’t even remember to drink? How could we have survived for hundreds of thousands of years without technology that tells us that it’s time to take a sip?

We’re living in this world right now. A world where any and every company that produces a product is asking itself how they could integrate it into the Internet of Things.

In the words of Ian Malcolm, Jeff Goldblum’s character in Jurassic Park: “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.”

The wave of the future?

The Internet of Things is the wave of the future. It’s a world of autonomous cars and intelligent sidewalks. It’s a grand scheme of a reality where our needs are met before we know we need them, and everyone has access to information whenever they need it.

During our journey to this future. It’s important that we balance the growth of this technology with its security. After all, if 30 million homes in the United States are going to be filled with smart devices in the next year, security shouldn’t be an afterthought.

The post Dyn DDoS attack sheds new light on the growing IoT problem appeared first on ReadWrite.

6 things we’ve connected that may kill us in the future

24 October, by Cate Lawrence[ —]

As much as we here at ReadWrite are genuinely enthusiastic about the Internet of Things, it’s never been without a heavy grain of salt.

We’ve never been afraid to question, analyze and critique the form and function of connected devices and the biggest ecosphere they inhabit. Unfortunately the recent DDoS attack that affected the East Coast

It’s of no surprise that since I’ve been writing a monthly Hits and Misses column for IoT products, that the misses component pretty much writes itself as technologists and start ups connect more and more devices with the internet. Kitchen appliances in particular seen particularly vulnerable to derision by many, particularly when we talk about kettles and refrigerators.

We’ve seen much hand-wringing over time about data security breaches particularly those pertaining to baby monitors and smart sex toys.

See also: It was the IoT, screwing Dyn, with the faulty traffic cam

But it’s worth noting that the recent DDoS attack has been in part, attributed to the vulnerability of certain connected devices including smart appliances and security cameras which has made some question the value of connected devices. The reality is that the market decides what products become connected to the internet.

Whether the sheer plethora of smart device has you questioning their capability to be connected (a phenomenon that is otherwise known as smart or intelligent, cause for derision alone in some instances). But the vulnerability is not specific to the device per se, but rather how it is made and secured in the first instance.

So, here are some of the devices that are today connected to the internet. Whether the vulnerability in such devices has bought their security into question or the value of their creation is simply questionable due to their inanity, you should consume at your peril:

Pregnancy tests


Pregnancy tests are highly reliable and easy, even if they do involve the slightly undignified act of peeing on a stick. Pregnancy Pro is described as the first pregnancy test that syncs with your smartphone and provides access to an app that offers information and support personalized to you.

The consumer downloads the app, pees on the stick provided, and then gets personalized information about her fertility. Upon downloading the app, she can detail whether she’s trying to get pregnant or not. That lets you avoid an awkward “congratulations” message.

The pregnancy test, at $15, is double the cost of a standard test. There are certainly better apps for tracking fertility like Clue and even wearables like Bellabeat’s Leaf, a health tracker that monitors activity levels, sleep quality, stress levels, ovulation, period, and contraception tracking as a cohesive whole.

Recently, the security of pregnancy tracking apps was bought into question when it was revealed that vulnerabilities in the Glow Pregnancy App would allow an attacker with rudimentary software tools to collect email addresses, change passwords, and access personal information from participants in Glow’s community forums, where people discuss their sex lives and health concerns.

While it’s not enough to bring down the internet, it could certainly compromise more than one relationship.

A smart egg tray


If you have a pathological fear of stale food and the subsequent food poisoning, you’ll  recall the Quirky + GE Smart Egg tray, that was launched in 2013.

It’s basically a tray to store fresh eggs that syncs via Wi-Fi so you can use your phone to check how many eggs are left in the tray. It’ll also let you know when the oldest one got in there so you know how fresh your eggs are, and how many you might need to pick up on the next trip to the supermarket. The app lets you select each egg one by one to check its shelf life.

While there’s no evidence it’s ever been hacked, you can use IFTTT to make it even smarter. Think of it as a precursor to the smart fridge.

Hacking an insulin pump

One of the most hotly contested area of digital health is diabetes. The diagnosis and treatment of Diabetes 1 and 2 is subject to a plethora of apps, diagnostic tools and management devices and health activists have been long awaiting devices that allow them greater convenience, flexibility and practicality in managing their condition.

For those who couldn’t afford to wait for devices like MyDario, have pushed forward with devices like hacked insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, watch displays and a generous code base.

Yet it was only this month that Johnson and Johnson released information that vulnerabilities in the  One Touch Insulin Pump could mean that a remote attacker could spoof the Meter Remote and trigger unauthorized insulin injections. The Animas OneTouch Ping pump, which was launched in 2008, enables diabetics to dose themselves with insulin using a Wi-Fi remote control, removing the hassle of directly accessing the device, which can be worn under the patient’s clothes.

It’s apparently the first time a manufacturer had issued such a warning to patients about a cyber vulnerability.

The Mapo connected beauty mask


While this mask looks like something from horror film, the Mapo by Wired Beauty is a sign to beauty regimes of the future. A sensor connected face mask analyzes your skin’s temperature and measure its moisture level, and the accompanying app uses that information to track your skin’s health and give recommendations about your beauty routine, such as when you should be cleansing and what type of products work best for you. It’d be perfect to wear to the door to frighten small children.

The Jeep Cherokee?

In 2015,  online-security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek shared their ability to attack a Jeep Cherokee wirelessly courtesy of a presentation at infamous hacking conference Def Con. They were able to attach themselves remotely to a Jeep Cherokee and disable the transmission and brakes and  take over the Jeep’s steering. Scary stuff and it resulted in  recall for 1.4 million vehicles. Jeep has since patched that vulnerability.

However at this year’s Def Con, the duo demonstrated how they could again take control of the same 2014 Jeep Cherokee they hacked the year before. This time they sent false messages to its internal network, overriding the correct ones. This allowed them to make the vehicle turn sharply while it was speeding down a country road.

They also were able to make the vehicle unintentionally speed up, or remotely slam on its brakes. It’s sobering stuff that suggests that self driving cars have bigger things to worry about than the trolley problem.

Cheap hardware and open-source software are making it easier to connect all manner of devices. What’s still hard is coming up with an application that’s actually useful. Is the thing that your device is replacing really broken—or are you stretching to find a reason to put technology somewhere where it’s not useful?

The Haz Umbrella


If you’re the kind of person who buys cheap umbrella’s that survive only a single hail storm due to your propensity to leave them on the subway, then the Haz Umbrella wants to make your life better.

It’s wi-fi connected to alert you if you ever leave the it out of of your sight. There’s even a corresponding app that notifies you of the latest weather in case you are unable look out the window, If you thought the smart clothes peg was stupid, then here is its big brother.

It’s easy to place scorn on the trivial nature of some connected devices. But the reality is the that you can’t tar an entire industry with the weaknesses of a number of products. Do we know how many are vulnerable? No. Nor do we know what portion of blame should be ascribed to the manufacturer or the consumer with their default passwords.

But this won’t be the only attack inflicted on connected devices and we should be ready for repeat performances, especially with those devices with life cycles longer than ten years or so where their earlier protections may become obsolete. We’ll need to be on the lookout.

The post 6 things we’ve connected that may kill us in the future appeared first on ReadWrite.

DDoS update: It was the IoT, screwing Dyn, with the faulty traffic cam

23 October, by Ryan Matthew Pierson[ —]
Masked anonymous hacker is pointing on DDoS Attack

Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are a common problem for network administrators around the world. Websites small and large get targeted by them every day. But this Friday, dozens of major websites were affected by a widespread attack – and this time the Internet of Things is in the spotlight.

Friday’s attack– already referred to as the October 2016 Dyn Cyberattack, showing immediately that we need snappier names for these events — affected many popular websites including Twitter, Amazon, Reddit, Netflix, and more. These websites shared one thing in common: they all used a common domain name system (DNS) provider, Dyn.

From about 0930 ET until just after 1800 ET, Dyn’s servers were attacked in three DDoS waves. We know now that many of the devices participating in the attack were IoT devices such as smart refrigerators, thermostats, and toasters. A group called “New World Hackers has claimed responsibility for the attack.

CSI: Internet breaks it down for us

A DNS provider like Dyn takes human-readable information, such as domain names, and points systems to their associated IP addresses. This makes it easier to find and reference websites you love without having to memorize a set of IP and port numbers. A DNS plays a vital role in the stability of the Internet, and any interruption of this service can and often will create havoc on the websites it works with.

The perpetrator can be a lone individual or an organized group that either bought or gained access to a swarm of compromised computer systems. These systems are compromised when malware or malicious code makes its way onto someone’s desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. That malware embeds itself invisibly onto the system so the owner doesn’t even know they’re affected.

These systems become part of what’s commonly described as a botnet. This botnet is used to carry out attacks on targeted systems by swarming them with so many requests that they are unable to handle them. Usually, this means the server freezes up or the legitimate traffic it receives has a difficult time getting its requests through.

Mirai: A name you’ll hear a lot

Friday’s attack utilized systems infected with the Mirai malware — a widespread malicious software that targets consumer smart home devices. These devices are typically hooked up and forgotten about, receiving rare updates and patches compared to traditional personal computers.

This makes them an especially good target for malicious parties. Mirai spreads itself by scanning the Internet for IPs owned by common connected devices. These devices are often left with factory logins and weak security protocols. The software uses this weakness to upload itself onto the device and take it over.

The owner, never knows or has any way of finding out if their device is infected. It operates exactly as it usually does.

“The really frightening part of this is not that we will be struggling with these new attacks for some time, but that the underlying weakness which makes them successful can and will be used to unleash more serious attacks,” said Chris Sullivan, general manager of intelligence/analytics at internet security firm Core Security.

See also: Hackers use decade old vulnerability to attack the Internet of Things

The next attack, he says, might be the one “that steals credit cards and weapons designs, manipulates processes like the SWIFT global funds transfers, and even destroy physical things like 30,000 PCs at Saudi Aramco.”

So, what’s next? For one, the Internet of Things is going to need increasingly robust security measures at all levels. We live in an age where information security is increasingly important, and if we are going to invite these devices on our private, corporate, and government networks, we need to be able to trust that they are secure enough not to fall prey to these kinds of malicious attacks.

The Internet of Things is a relatively new concept and there are growing pains to be expected. Just as we endured and continue to endure countless security patches and updates on popular operating systems like Windows and OS X on our desktop computers – we should expect these kinds of updates to occur on our smart toasters, as well.

The post DDoS update: It was the IoT, screwing Dyn, with the faulty traffic cam appeared first on ReadWrite.

Going down: Bringing AR to elevator servicing with HoloLens

23 October, by Cate Lawrence[ —]

ThyssenKrupp recently launched its use of Microsoft HoloLens technology in its elevator service operations worldwide. Currently, the global elevator service industry is valued at over $44 billion per year and more than 12 million elevators transport over 1 billion people each day.

The special mixed reality device is set to empower more than 24,000 of the company’s service technicians to do their jobs more safely and efficiently, and keep people and cities moving better than ever before.

Microsoft HoloLens is the first fully self-contained wearable holographic computer running Windows 10. It is completely self-contained–no wires, phones, or connection to a PC needed. Microsoft HoloLens allows you to place holograms in your physical environment and provides a new way to see the world.

See also: Is this autonomous tricycle what urban centers need?

Using HoloLens, service technicians will be able to visualize and identify problems with elevators ahead of a job, and have remote, hands-free access to technical and expert information when onsite – all resulting in significant savings in time and stress. Initial field trials have already shown that a service maintenance intervention can be done up to four times faster.

This solution follows the successful launch of MAX, the industry’s first predictive maintenance solution which is already connected with thousands of elevators. MAX collects and sends real-time data from connected elevators to the intelligent cloud.

Intricate algorithms calculate the remaining lifetime of each elevator’s key components and systems, determining which parts will require maintenance and when. Through the use of MAX, global service engineers and technicians receive real-time alerts for pre-issue repairs, enabling them to be more proactive with customers. This includes scheduling maintenance tasks ahead of elevator breakdowns and at times of minimal disruption within the building. In this way, engineers help building managers and users avoid the frustration and inconvenience of out-of-service elevators.

Sam George, Partner Director at Microsoft’s Azure IoT, added:

“The successful launch of IoT-enabled MAX was the first step in ThyssenKrupp’s journey to not only transform their business but also its 100-year-old industry. Predictive maintenance, powered by Microsoft Azure IoT, enabled thyssenkrupp to offer time savings to worldwide elevator passengers equivalent to 95 million hours of new availability per year of operation. Today, we are proud to have once again collaborated with thyssenkrupp to bring another game-changing solution to market together.”

Iconic buildings whose elevators are already cloud-connected through MAX include the One World Trade Center. The building has elevators that travel faster than Usain Bolt, capable of moving from the ground floor to the 102nd floor in just 60 seconds, and regenerative drives that convert energy produced when elevators decelerate into electricity that can be used to significantly reduce the building’s energy consumption. Now equipped with MAX and HoloLens, the tower is setting new standards for sustainability and building efficiency.

Andreas Schierenbeck, CEO of ThyssenKrupp Elevator, said:

“With elevators transporting over one billion people each day, the service industry has a critical role to play in keeping cities moving. We remain focused on leading the transformation in this industry; introducing the latest technologies, processes and training to enable technicians to do a better job with less stress and more fun. Our goal is to increase efficiency, raise elevator up times and speed up service interventions to ensure mobility equipment is always running as it should, providing each passenger with the safest and most comfortable travel experience possible.”

GeekWire reports that enterprise interest for HoloLens turned out to be a bit of a surprise, according to Chris Capossela, Microsoft chief marketing officer:

“We totally underestimated the commercial interest in this thing,” Capossela said. “The team who built it, a lot of them had their roots in Xbox. Alex Kipman and Kudo [Tsunoda]. And so they originally envisioned it as something more along those lines, but as we started to show it to people, we were blown away by the commercial interest.”

Indeed, the commercial applications for HoloLens are seemingly endless are are limited only by how fast companies can get their hands on the device. This is set to change industries such as construction, manufacturing and design.

The post Going down: Bringing AR to elevator servicing with HoloLens appeared first on ReadWrite.

Will this self-driving military truck threaten army jobs now?

http://readwrite.com/2016/10/22/ukraine-develops-kraz-spartan-an-autonomous-armed-vehicle-cl4/play episode download
22 October, by Ryan Matthew Pierson[ —]

When you think about autonomous vehicles, a modified Prius or Smart Car might come to mind. Perhaps a Tesla Model 3 or even a fancy Rolls-Royce that costs more than most people spend on their house. Autonomous vehicles come across as safe, easy-going, and nothing to be intimidated by.

Well, Ukraine’s KrAZ Spartan will change that perception – real quick.

This giant armored vehicle is anything but soft and pleasant. It’s an intimidating presence both on the road and in the battlefield. No human drivers required.

The KrAZ Spartan, which is based off a heavily-modified truck with massive amounts of armor, is capable of moving troops and supplies without any human assistance. Two of these vehicles, nicknamed “Fiona” and “Shrek” are already tearing up the obstacle course in a recent demonstration.

We don’t have all of the details about this vehicle, and most of the press around it has thus far been written in Ukrainian. We do know that this is just one of many autonomous vehicle projects being run by military organizations around the world.

Autonomous vehicles save lives in the field

Why would there be a need for such a thing? Isn’t autonomous vehicle technologies made for convenience and safety rather than combat situations?

The answer to this is quite simple.

A fully self-driving vehicle like this can also transport supplies between units without putting lives at risk. No one would need to be on board at all.

We live in a world with roadside bombs and smart missiles that target humvees and other military vehicles. Despite their armored exterior, they remain a prime target in battle. This makes having one that can drive itself especially useful for testing new roads ahead of the rest of the convoy.

You may also find yourself in a situation where you are unable to operate a vehicle manually. Transporting wounded troops from the battlefield would be another great use for something like this if the situation calls for it.

US DoD is testing its own self-driving support

The United States has been testing autonomous military vehicles for some time. Robots and drones have been in the battlefield for years. For the most part, these devices are believed by many citizens without top secret clearance to be remote controlled rather than fully autonomous.

Bomb squads, for example, have been utilizing robots to do things like search for and disable explosives for over a decade. These tools are actively saving American lives today.

The idea of taking this autonomous vehicle technology which is finding its way into the consumer sector and applying it in military scenarios is just common sense.

More recently the military has been looking into self-driving tanks and autonomous trucks. These vehicles, in addition to advances in the area of artificial intelligence, are creating a new generation of military force. One that doesn’t rely so heavily on troops deployed on the ground, but of intelligent machines.

After all is said and done, at least the Terminators will have some great new modes of transportation to use once Skynet becomes self-aware.

The post Will this self-driving military truck threaten army jobs now? appeared first on ReadWrite.

Taking the train in India is getting smarter — for some commuters

http://readwrite.com/2016/10/21/10-indian-rail-stations-get-smart-city-makeovers/play episode download
22 October, by Donal Power[ —]
Young indian woman looking at her smart phone and typing while travelling on the tube in London. She is standing and holding with an hand. Transport and commuting concepts. Colours filter added.

Indian Railways is undertaking a smart city makeover for its stations in 10 cities around the country.

As reported by Indian gadget news site BGR, the railroad recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Ministry of Urban Development. The MOU will see the transformation of stations in 10 cities to further the agenda of the nation’s smart city strategy.

India previously announced plans to develop 100 smart cities around the country by 2022. By last month 60 of the cities have been chosen under the ambitious plan that the government hopes will act as a springboard to modernize outdated urban infrastructure across India.

Specifically, the new agreement paves the way for redevelopment that enhances passenger amenities, improves station access and optimizes utilization at target railway stations.

The stations targeted for smart city redevelopment are: Varnasi, Bhubaneswar, Thane, Puducherry, Lucknow, Jaipur, Kota, Tirupati, Sarai Rohilla in Delhi and Margao in Goa

The project is a joint venture between the Railway Ministry, which will hold primary responsibility, and the Urban Development Ministry.

“Railway stations have been the core of city development and have become congested over time and their redevelopment offers immense opportunities for changing city landscape,” said Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu.

How local smart cities are happening

Meanwhile, Urban Development will take the lead in negotiating with various states and city governments in order to integrate the station redevelopment into local smart city strategies.

“This convergence based city development will result in qualitative improvement in city life,” said Urban Development Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.

He said that the station project could be a good fit for the National Buildings Construction Corporation which has previously self-financed redevelopment initiatives.

Prabhu added that other sources of support for the station redevelopment project may come from outside the country. He said such countries as the U.K., Germany, Japan, France, Belgium and South Korea have expressed interest in the project.

To drum up further interest, India is planning to host a round table next week where international and domestic bankers will discuss opportunities for financing aspects of the initiative.

The post Taking the train in India is getting smarter — for some commuters appeared first on ReadWrite.

Why IoT really means the “Integration of Things”

http://www.idgenterprise.com/resource/marketing-tools/internet-of-things-insights-through-the-tech-lens-that-matters-infographic/play episode download
22 October, by ReadWrite Sponsors[ —]
Business man touches a Business process on virtual technology background

It’s a well-documented position that the IoT market is generally yet to move beyond the early-adopter stage in many industry verticals and use-cases. The adoption curve versus the hype curve is still behind, but there’s a very evident shift in the market to suggest that activity is ramping up significantly.

When comparing this market maturity against the wide range of tools and products available for IoT solution development, there is an abundance of choice for enterprises and IoT solution providers. However, this abundance can often look more like confusion as most weeks seem to pass by with the announcement of another IoT platform or device management toolset, designed to simplify and speed IoT solution delivery time to market.

Dale Rankine, Co-founder and CEO, Reekoh

Dale Rankine, Co-founder and CEO, Reekoh

Enterprises are quickly coming to realize that it’s more about how the data is used throughout the business that determines the value of the investment and the returns gained from it. It’s not generally a question now of how to generate the data, it’s about how to integrate that data with the organization on a business system and process level. The good news is the market is full of options for ingesting device data, and working with it through various all-in-one tools for storage, data visualization, rules, and analytics.

It’s about the Integration of Things.

IDG has identified Systems Integration as one of the top IoT adoption challenges for enterprises. Gartner too suggests that “orchestration of workflows and processes looms as a major concern for those planning to implement IoT.”

When evaluating IoT solution tools, particularly IoT platforms, enterprises should really be asking questions such as these …

1: How well does this tool integrate IoT data into my existing business processes and systems?

Integrating business systems and data has been a fast-growing practice within enterprises due to the wide adoption of API’s. The same approach should be applied to data from connected devices so that the full business value can be realized rather than creating new IoT data or process silos. It also has an impact on end-user training, in terms of not having to introduce any new systems requiring interaction.

2: Does this tool work openly with systems I’ve already invested in?

Presenting scenarios where existing investment can be further leveraged always goes down well with CFO’s and decision makers. IoT solutions will ultimately need to move beyond simple dashboards and visualizations in order to deliver a return for an enterprise, so making sure that your IoT data can openly and easily integrate with the business with minimal new system cost could make projects much more viable. 

3: How locked-in will I be to this tool in future business expansion?

It’s not always the original project cost, but the ongoing project expansion costs that come up in IoT solution planning, particularly given how new IoT is to many organizations. As a result, they simply can’t see far enough ahead into the future to adequately scope where projects may lead. Choosing tools that allow for changes in where IoT data is managed inside the organization will provide a degree of flexibility which will be highly valuable in the long run.

4: How much application development investment is required on top of the platform to achieve our goals?

Many IoT tools and platforms seem off-the-shelf, but in reality require a large investment of time and cost to develop the solution or application that will ultimately be deployed. It may be that the required development skills aren’t in-house, and would need to be brought in through third parties or expanded headcount. While you can never really expect a simple “plug and play” outcome, there are options that reduce software development time and cost and that can help to accelerate delivery.   

It’s important to fully understand the answers to these questions which choosing the tools for delivering business outcomes and value using IoT and to measure the impact of tools that are not designed for system integration. What may get you through a trial or POC may not get you much further, especially when looking at scaling or moving the solution into the broader organization’s tech landscape.

There’s also an added layer of risk-mitigation when taking this approach. Removing questions around new investment in tools that already exist in the business, staff retraining, additional certification, and auditing, can make the business case stack up even faster when taking an IoT solution to the CFO.

These are all issues that relate to a market that is still maturing, and a vendor landscape that is growing along with it. There are no silver bullets, but there are approaches that can reduce risk, cost, and friction in an organization that is developing an IoT strategy or product roadmap. Removing the system integration hurdle, and leveraging tools that give greater access to the broader IoT ecosystem, are two ways to embarking on a pathway to success in enterprise IoT.

This article was produced in partnership with Reekoh – IoT Integration Platform and Marketplace.

The post Why IoT really means the “Integration of Things” appeared first on ReadWrite.

Is this autonomous tricycle what urban smart cities need?

20 October, by David Curry[ —]
Autonomous tricycle

The University of Washington Bothell (UWB) wants tricycles to be part of the self-driving conversation, providing smart cities with a cheaper and smaller alternative to cars and buses.

The team started with a remote-controlled tricycle, but moved to a self-driving system last week. It is only able to drive in a circle at the moment, but the team is confident it can reach miles autonomously in the future.

See Also: Shoka Bell rings up a new connected commute

After the tricycle becomes fully autonomous, the team wants to sell it for $10,000. Another route could be a self-driving fleet of tricycles, similar to Uber’s self-driving fleet in Pittsburgh, taking commuters across the city.

Autonomous tricycle has its upsides

The tricycle has plenty of advantages when compared to cars, it takes up less space on the road, weighs less, and is more environmentally friendly than the fuel chugging automotives on our roads today.

“We’re using things much less powerful than a smartphone,” Tyler Folsom, head of the team at UWB. “Part of the concept is that you don’t have to spend as much money as the big car companies are spending. My contention is you don’t need all that much processing power to make autonomy happen.”

Smart cities require innovative transport ideas, and while autonomous tricycles seem like a longshot, it could be a way to reduce the road size, providing more space for businesses, parks, and green space.

“The big thing for me is the effect this could have on global warming,” said Folsom. “If we can push transportation in this direction—very light vehicles—it’s a major win for the environment. I want to have the technology that lets people make that choice if we decide, yes, by the way, survival would be a nice thing.”

The post Is this autonomous tricycle what urban smart cities need? appeared first on ReadWrite.

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