A Sneak Peek into Tomorrow…


i robotThe Future:  Asimov, Heinlein, Bradbury and Roddenberry, sci-fi extrapolators got it 98% right with the robotics.  Hats off to them and I’m a HUGE fan.  What they missed, ole Issac  in particular, was that 90% of the robots working for us won’t look like people and…they won’t be governed by any sort of romantic/robotic code of ethics.  Oh…and most of them won’t be rolling or  tip-toeing around your house, they will be flying.

Today:  I currently own and operate a 2014 state-of-the-art drone.  It’s sold by a tech company called DJI and their drones are the latest state of the art.  My drone/quadcopter is called the Phantom II Vision, (P-2-V) and it’s amazing.  When I screw up and lose it entirely, it flies back home and lands on its little pad with the photos and film footage I’ve taken…shots are amazing by the way.  Go on You Tube and see for yourself.  While it’s flying, if it suddenly gets gusty…it accounts for it and can maintain a steady hover.  There are also…indoor models that can easily maneuver around your house.

Couple reading newspapersTomorrow: (from here on we’re extrapolating)  Well, now they’ve thought of everything.  Braun Coffeemakers just signed a contract with DJI and I just couldn’t resist.  It cost $495 and it’s a two-cup coffeemaker (gourmet coffee by the way) only…after the coffee’s made downstairs, I hear that now familiar buzz of the little quadcopter rotors bringing it up the stairs and into the bedroom.  So as to not scare anyone, after it enters the room it has a cheerful greeting.  “Wake up sleepy heads, I’ve got your java…and the weather.  May I put it on the nightstand?”   Of course, it knows to serve Pamela first.  It also knows she likes more sweetener and soymilk instead of half and half for the coffee.   It sounds like a large honeybee and deposits the coffee without missing a drop.  As it leaves, it asks if I want to know the headline news in the New York Times.  “Thanks Hugh,” I say.  (Pamela likes Hugh Jackman) and it trundles back down to the kitchen.

Sad Reality:  A short time ago, in Detroit, a psychopath went on a killing spree.  He was smart and well-prepared, with full body armor, bulletproof headgear, and a high-capacity assault rifle with cop-killer bullets.  He was, disgustingly better-prepared than any of the local police who had to face him.  Think of a rogue Robo Cop.  The body count was high.  They sent for an armored car, but it was too far away.  Then there was Columbine…  Then there was Sandy Hook, Detroit, Texas, Arizona, California.

ENTER:  DJI Enterprises HALO Copter-D:   HALO is an acronym for:  Highly Adaptable Light Omni Copter.  The D stands for DEFENSE and there are seven different models…a robotic Swiss Army knife if you will.

Here is  how HALO-D  is equipped to take out that psychopath…without firing a single bullet:  At this moment, every quadcopter  has standard miniature props.  They’re effective but…buzzy.  They make a lot of noise.

The HALO-D, however has Run-Silent  Graphene Props with feathered edges (thank Mother Nature for the concept.  Owls fly silently because of the design.)  More than that,  GRAPHENE, the ultra-light, hyper-strong  nano material (500 times stronger than steel), has almost no weight at all.   And we’re not done.  The HALO-D is not only silent, it’s virtually invisible because…it’s fabricated from clear optical polycarbonate (Lexan).  You know it as bulletproof glass, but every component in the HALO-D right down to the coating on the wires is clear polycarbonate.

close up terroristThe Psychopath:  In this incident in a Detroit suburb,  HALO-D was launched two streets away from the psychopath.  It approached him from an altitude two-hundred feet at which point it made visual contact and transmitted it back to Sergeant Colin McKean.  With 8 satellites maintaining its location, it hovered there…waiting. The armored terrorist was running from car to car, but from 200 feet up, HALO-D just followed along.  With the go-ahead,  HALO-D then descended to an altitude of 20 feet, still invisible, still noiseless.  The only indication the psycho might have noticed was the slight breeze…from above.

The Hit:  From twenty feet HALO-D dropped what is known as a FLASH-BANG…essentially a stun grenade.  A second later it dropped a small canister of knock-out gas, just to be sure, though the perpetrator was already down  No one was killed or injured, not even the psycho and HALO-D muttered quietly home, having used up, fifteen cents worth of electricity.  Again, think of Columbine.  Think of Oklahoma.  Think of Sandy Hook.

LITTLE-D, HALO’s scaled-down brother, is set up to negotiate doorways and school classrooms and corridors safely and LITTLE-D  flies in coordination with his brothers.  A school can be scoped and the murderer isolated, usually in under two minutes.   No Sci-Fi.  All of these innovations exist.  They just haven’t been collated.

climber and copterTwo Climbers Missing on Mt. McKinley:    HALO-SR, (Search and Rescue)  Every year thousands upon thousands of mountain climbers, hikers and naive tourists become lost in the mountains.   Two things make finding them really difficult:  First: terrain.  Second: altitude.  Tall mountains rarely have a lot of roads and…something you might not know, helicopters have a maximum service ceiling of under 20,000 feet.  That’s in non-mountain circumstances.  Add the super down drafts and eddy currents that occur in mountains and you can effectively halve or quarter that.  In short, helicopters aren’t a lot of help.

By all rights, drones which are subject to the same laws of physics should be equally vulnerable.  Because of their scale, it’s greatly diminished.  More important, however, the blades of a HALO-SR can be switched out, not in days but in seconds.  I can switch all four my P-2-V Vision Quadcopter’s blades in under 30 seconds.  Same with the HALO-SR which comes equipped with high altitude blades.  They are wider blades and cut at a much more aggressive angle to counter the thinness of the air.

Coordinated with GPS, six, eight or ten inexpensive SRs can scan a square mile 100 times as fast and usually faster with no risk to the automated searchers.   Once the lost climbers are located, HALO has a truly cool device it drops which allows for direct overhead extraction.  I’ll give you a hint.  It involves a tiny canister of  helium and a thin lightweight roll of 1000 feet by one-inch Graphene tubing. Compressed, the tubing appears like very wide black floss.

flood with p2vThe Sudden Flood:  We used to live in Tucson.  First time we arrived, I asked what the black-and-white one-foot hash marks were for on all the underpasses.  The simple answer?  It’s for when it rains.  It’s not like Ohio or Pennsy.  When it rains in some states, the arroyos fill within minutes and every single year some tourist is stranded…and sometimes just washed away.  It’s true.  Even forewarned, Pam and I drove into what looked like a shallow depression in the rain.  The depression was four feet deep and my cool Shelby GT-350 became a barge in the space of five seconds.  Young and stupid and extremely lucky, I got out and pushed it to the other side before the water got fast.  Again, very dumb.

How many news videos have you watched where some poor soul and his family were crouched on the roof of his car waiting for the water to come up another foot and wash them away?   Helicopters will help, but ONLY if the wind isn’t blowing too hard.  That’s because there are pilots in those helicopters.  HALO-SR with its quick attach crosswind prop, however, can handle sustained 30 mph winds and short gusts over 40.  It’s not pretty, but it works.   From the safety of land, the local police and/or the local firemen launch HALO-SR.  It bobs and weaves in the air, but those 8-12 satellites…and the extra sideways prop keeps it viable.  It crawls slowly out to the car, 30 feet in the air and lowers…you guessed it, a small orange weight…with fishing line attached.  The grown-up grabs the weight and reads the orange card which reads:  Keep pulling this line.  The fishing line quickly becomes another Graphene tube/rope stronger than steel and absurdly light.  Attached to the end of that Graphene tube…is a white water dingy.  The family straps in and are pulled to safety.

building with P2VThe Six-Alarm Fire at Doylestown Courthouse:    HALO-F.  The F stand for Fire and HALO F, affectionately named Fred by the Doylestown Fire Departments is constructed of fire resistant material.  You know it’s an F-model because everything is silver and because of the fire retardant material…it looks like it needs to go on a diet.

All the vulnerable parts are all sheathed in a twenty-layer sandwich of silver-colored flame retardant.

HALO Fred, however, is just getting started.  He’s equipped with a male version of SIRI , programmed precisely to a firemens’ needs.  Fred doesn’t care about heat or smoke.  With IR and LIDAR and Sonic-Bounce, he can enter a building, climb the stairs, enter rooms and report back to Chief Daniels as to who is alive, who’s viable…and who isn’t.  Fred can also discern grown-ups from children and pets from children.  He can “look around” and he can report temperatures as well as breathability and poison gas.   After he saved his first human, Fred got pretty popular at the station.   Today at the courthouse, all but one person had been successfully evacuated.  A man in a wheelchair was stuck in the public restroom but Fred sensed him in one minute, nine seconds.  His rescue was uneventful…except to him.  The firechief even lets him refer to him as “chief” like the rest of the crew.  How many people has he saved?  Are you counting firemen as well???  A whole lot.  HALO-Fred is one of the good guys.

The technology is already here folks.  I just extrapolated and just a bit.  And if you’re thinking these scenarios are the only ones…think again.  Think of Fukushima.  Think of Three Mile Island, mining disasters, spelunkers…lost children, protecting school yards, neighborhoods.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.




9 Responses to "A Sneak Peek into Tomorrow…"

  1. Greg Meurs says:

    I think Pamela may be a bit sexist thinking the ladies won’t like this article. They might zone out on some of it, but reading of the “heroics” this machine can achieve will appeal to all female and male, I think. I see the good, but expect the evil person will see the bad that can be done with one of these drones as well.

  2. Peter Ronai says:

    Dynamite essay!

    Two questions:
    1. Why would you lose female readers? Does Pamela think they haven’t enough imagination to understand the potential of this technology?
    2. Extrapolation is legitimate, but how big is the gap between now and then? What time scale are we looking at? A year? five years? ten? before these feats will be achieved.

    Peter R.

  3. Henry Harvey says:

    Okay, it’s confession time. I overstated Pamela’s and my arm-wrestling on this one, as I believe you have in using the word misogynist to describe her critique. Pamela is hardly a woman hater, nor is she a man hater. She merely observed that generally speaking, men tend to gravitate more toward certain fields. Subscribing to all the rotorcraft mags, 95% of the articles are generated by men…as are critiques on chainsaws, drill presses, AA fuel dragsters and such. Are there exceptions? Sure. Of course. But by the numbers, Pamela was (rightfully) concerned that I just might bore a whole bunch of women. That’s hardly being misogynistic.
    Anyway, to your question: Not having a crystal ball to gaze into I can only further extrapolate. The time-line you question is directly linked to motivation. Can “quiet props” be made for these drone devices? Sure. They are being refined as we speak.
    Can high altitude props be made as well. Yes, though, to my knowledge no one has discovered the need just yet.
    Can quadcopters be constructed of optical polycarbonate? Easy. With a few of the right tools I could do that in my own shop. Heat resistant components for the quadcopters. Yep. They have carbon fiber props today. Graphene…in a matter of hours once somebody discovers the need. All the necessary flame retardant technology is in existence…right now.
    Let’s not burn Pamela at the stake as a misogynist quite yet. Fact is, she’s the fairest person I’ve ever met on this planet. Right is right, regardless of sex…but she is also a realist in a highly flawed world. HRH

  4. Very interesting. I had often wondered more about the utility of drones. Thanks for the share.
    Michele P.

  5. Henry Harvey says:

    Thanks Michele! I only touched the tiniest tip of the iceberg. Police won’t have to endanger lives with high-speed chases. Traffic management, news coverage…without the need for hovering helicopters, riot analysis, forestry, huge number of farming uses, house inspecting, and of course, it’s being used right now in the real estate market. It goes on and on and on. HRH

  6. Lynn Walker says:

    Your extrapolations were fascinating!
    After reading your article, I can’t imagine a fire department NOT having a drone to handle some of the life-threatening tasks. And mountain climbers…yes, yes, yes. Not sure I want one flying into my bedroom just yet…but, the prospect of having a cappuccino delivered is enticing.
    Lynn W.

  7. Ellary Eddy says:

    Fascinating and visionary:)!

    Remind me next week and I’ll see how to fit it into the next ish.

    I wonder if you’d also treat the down side of these critters? Like when everyone has one?

    Also, your gunman and fire scenarios sound so detailed and real, I think it might be good to say.
    “And here’s another possible scenario” or something like that – to remind readers that this isn’t real:)


  8. Henry Harvey says:

    Thanks Ellary!

    Happy to address the other side of this fascinating equation. The dark side, unfortunately is as varied and dynamic and the plus side. Fact is: they’re not going away.
    I did post a, “from here on I’m extrapolating” for the “peeks into tomorrow”. You may be right, but I hate it when any writer talks “down” to me. I tend to fault on the other side, and I’d like to think I have a VERY savvy readership. HRH

  9. Thank you Henry and Hi Pam,
    This is interesting and scary. I’ll share it with my sons- one who is an emergency room doc and recent firefighter will find it fascinating, and who knows where it goes from there. Best to you both, Nancy, Schiffer Publishing

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