Flying Cars Have Finally Arrived!
For generations, flying cars have been a popular futuristic fantasy, shared by people all over the world. Unfortunately, this is an invention that has remained in the realm of science fiction, so we are still driving on the ground.
Now, after all this time, it seems like flying cars may actually become a reality.
A new air taxi startup called Alaka’i Technologies has released a prototype of a hydrogen powered flying car. The company unveiled the demo of the vehicle this May, at the offices of BMW Designworks in Los Angeles.
The flying car prototype is fully functional and able to hold up to five passengers.
A spokesperson for the company said that the prototype would be making its first flight “imminently.”
BMW Designworks will be somehow contributing to the design of the vehicle, but the extent of their involvement is unclear.
Alaka’i Technologies features an all-star team with engineers and executives from NASA, Raytheon, Airbus, Boeing, and the Department of Defense.
The Capabilities Of The Alaka’i Skai
The vehicle, called Skai, can fly for up to 4 hours and cover 400 miles on a single trip. Unlike the electric cars on the market like the Tesla, you can power up a Skai in just 10 minutes.
While Alaka’i is an air taxi company, that market is still not mature enough for them to enter into yet. Instead, Alaka’i will first use Skai for emergency services, search and rescue missions, and hauling cargo.
These industries will be easier for Alaka’i to enter because regulations and certifications are less stringent.
For rescue and transport industries, certification will take no longer than a few months. Meanwhile, certification to carry passengers for commercial purposes typically takes between 5 and 10 years.
This will allow them to start getting their product onto the market by next year.
Hydrogen: An Expensive Fuel Source
While this technology is promising, high production costs could hinder the development of hydrogen powered vehicles.
Hydrogen fuel cells are very efficient, but unfortunately, hydrogen is also extremely rare. Due to its rarity and the increasing demand for it, hydrogen can get incredibly expensive.
As expected, the Skai is no bargain. The company estimates that the vehicle will cost roughly $200,000. However, they have stated that the first few models that they release to the public will be significantly more expensive.
The Future of Skai
Despite this massive cost, Alaka’i has high hopes for its revolutionary flying vehicle. The company expects that it will have a production volume of roughly 10,000 vehicles each year. This is a staggering number for the industry, as no other company produces more than 700 aircraft annually.
The initial aircraft released by Alaka’i will require a pilot to manually operate the vehicle. However, the company plans on releasing a fully autonomous aircraft, once the market matures.
NASA veteran engineer Bruce Holmes, who serves on Alaka’i’s board of directors told Wired that, “Our goal was to keep it simple, and we focused on accommodating a certain mission profile that’s repeatable over an entire day.”
Previous Developments In The Industry
Believe it or not, this actually won’t be the first aircraft powered by a fuel cell. In 2008, Boeing modified a small plane to power its conventional propeller with a battery.
Boeing used a Proton Exchange Membrane (PEM) fuel cell, with a lithium-ion battery hybrid system to power the aircraft. However, this is obviously an entirely different type of vehicle. The Skai is more of an electric flying car, and less of an electric airplane.
The Russian manufacturer Tupolev built a prototype hydrogen powered version of the Tu 154 airliner, named the Tu 155, which made its first flight in 1989.
Liquid hydrogen has about four times the volume for the same amount of energy of kerosene based jet-fuel. However, hydrogen is about one-third of the weight of kerosene jet-fuel for the same amount of energy. This means that the hydrogen aircraft would require about one-third of the fuel weight to achieve the same performance.
Samsung DeepFake Technology Can Make A Single Picture Say Anything
Deep Fake Technology
Samsung recently unveiled creepy new artificial intelligence technology that creates fake video footage of people. The technology is known as “deepfake” and it could potentially change the media forever.
With this technology, you can take a picture of any person and create a video of them saying anything. The deep fake technology that Samsung has created was even able to make the Mona Lisa talk. The Mona Lisa video was more convincing than any other fabrication of its kind.
A team of specialists working in Moscow developed the new deep fake algorithm for Samsung. The team had researchers from the Samsung AI Center and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.
There are some fun and novel uses for this technology, but experts are more concerned about the dangers.
“Such ability has practical applications for telepresence. Including video conferencing and multi-player games, as well as the special effects industry,” the researchers explained in their paper.
The researchers trained the program using more than 7,000 images of celebrities. The team sourced the celebrity images from a database called VoxCeleb.
“The system makes use of a convolution neural network. A type of neural network based on biological processes in the animal visual cortex. It’s particularly adept at processing stacks of images and recognizing what’s in them. The “convolution” essentially recognizes and extracts parts of images. It’s also used in image searches on the web and self-driving car technology, for instance,” according to Science Alert.
Leaps Forward In Deep Fake Tech
This news comes just one week after an AI startup released an incredibly impressive Joe Rogan deep fake.
Dessa, the AI startup responsible for the Rogan fake, used a text to speech deep learning system called RealTalk.
The RealTalk system used clips of Rogan’s voice to create a false audio clip. In the false audio clip, the AI made Rogan go on absurd rants. One of the rants was about him training a hockey team of chimps.
Rogan was an especially fitting target because he regularly discusses deep fake technology on his show.
Previous Efforts With Deep Fakes
In 2017, a startup called “Lyrebird” made headlines with AI generated replications of celebrity voices. These clips were extremely convincing and gave the public a first look at this technology. However, since Lyrebird, the technology has only become more advanced. The capabilities that these AI machines allow, could usher in a new era of dangerous propaganda.
This new development from Samsung takes the capabilities much further. Now, instead of just having audio, you can actually have a replica of a person’s face that will say anything.
The Deep Fake Danger
Experts are concerned about the many dangerous implications of deep fake technology. In the future, tyrants and terrorists alike could use AI programs to start wars. Likewise, these same forces can use these fakes to change the outcome of elections, and perhaps even history.
Blackmail will also become an increasing concern among the public when fakes are so easy to make. It will be very easy for people with bad intentions to make fake content in hopes of defaming an enemy.
Deep fakes became a trending topic earlier this month, when a poorly made fake of Nancy Pelosi went viral. The fake video sparked outrage online, and prompted protests against Facebook after they refused to remove the video.
The Newest Offerings
The animations below show how the deep fake team at Samsung brought the Mona Lisa to life. The video also contains other animations, and well as a step by step description of the process.
The team stated in their study that the technology, “performs lengthy meta-learning on a large dataset of videos… Crucially, the system is able to initialize the parameters of both the generator and the discriminator in a person-specific way, so that training can be based on just a few images and done quickly, despite the need to tune tens of millions of parameters. We show that such an approach is able to learn highly realistic and personalized talking head models of new people and even portrait paintings.”
You can read the full text of Samsung’s deep fake paper pre-print server arXiv.org.
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