The best thing I saw at CES in 2010 was the Parrot AR Drone, an iPhone-controlled quadcopter. It was a really fun toy, but an expensive one, and not that reliable either, as I learned when my demo unit dropped out of the sky. But this platform, the quadcopter, can be a serious player in solving real-world problems. Aeryon, which I covered in 2009, played an important part in the Libyan rebellion: one of its flying bots helped the rebels see over their heads to where their opposition was gathering.
And at the graduation ceremony of the Singularity University this week, I was introduced to another real-world, save-the-world company that's applying quadcopter technology: Matternet.
This particular class of S.U. was focused on solving problems for "the next billion people," those without access to modern technology. Matternet tackled the problem of getting drugs and diagnostic or test materials to people in rural areas in developing countries that don't have access to passable roads during rainy seasons.
The company proposed building a network of robotic drones to deliver medication quickly and very cost-effectively--even less than a guy on a dirt bike costs.
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