CES 2018 – Robots, AI, and of Course, Drones

This past week I had the pleasure of attending CES in Las Vegas with our Loveland Innovations Chief Technology Officer, Leif Larson. What an amazing show with over 2.75 million square feet of tech exhibit space and an estimated 200,000 attendees from all over the world converging on the city of Las Vegas to see the future of technology. While it was impossible to see everything the show had to offer, the three major themes that I saw during my time there were robots, drones, and AI.

The Robots are Invading

Creepy little robots designed to play with young kids, grocery delivery bots, rectangular trash-can-looking bots straight out of the original Star Wars movie, these things were everywhere! While it was hard to see the usefulness in some of the crazy looking robotic devices that were on display at CES, it was extremely impressive to see what is possible with the combination of robotics, sensors, and artificial intelligence. While still decades away from everyday use, the most useful robots I saw were the self-driving delivery bots that could drive down the street from your local grocery store to bring fresh produce to your door or, for those members of society with extremely limited number of friends, the bots that could play games with you like Forpheus, a Ping-Pong playing robot from Japanese technology company Omron.

The Drone Hardware Market is Maturing

This past week the FAA reached a huge milestone with over 1 million drones officially registered. According to them, hobbyists purchased 1.9 million drones in 2016 and commercial buyers purchased another 600,000 drones. The FAA, who tends to be very conservative on their forecasts, expects these numbers to grow to 4.3 million hobbyist drones purchased and 2.7 million commercial purchases by the year 2020. DJI continues to completely dominate the market with the best hobbyist and commercial drones available and their domination was clear again this year with their enormous presence at CES alongside other notable companies such as Yuneec, Yamaha, and Intel. Other significant U.S.-based companies, such as 3DR and GoPro, have fallen by the wayside as they’ve been unable to keep up and compete with DJI. In fact. GoPro just announced this week that they are given up entirely on the drone market and discontinuing the GoPro Karma drone once their existing inventory is sold.

Major commercial industries such as construction, insurance, agricultural, and mining continue to see the tremendous benefits of using commercial drones as more and more purpose-built drones, analytics, and software companies provide solutions to meet their specific industry needs.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) Is Going Mainstream

It was really gratifying to see the tremendous use cases of AI in live applications. Booth after booth at the 2018 CES show demonstrated how a wide range of artificial intelligence systems were being used to solve a plethora of problems such as highly customized personal health care devices and systems, natural language processing, visual identification and classification of objects and people, and autonomous vehicle navigation and detection systems. It seemed as if everything out there had some element of AI embedded in it.

At the end of the day, the future is a very exciting place and there is no question that we will see a continued explosion of robotics, drones, and AI impacting every nook and cranny of our personal and commercial lives.


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