Solve for X: Andreas Raptopoulos on physical transport

Uploaded by wesolveforx on 07.02.2012

ANDREAS RAPTOPOULOS: So this is a very young idea.
We created it just this summer at Singularity University.
But we stumbled upon something that we believe can be a
paradigm shift.
So we want to solve for physical transport.
1 billion people in the world today have no access to
all-season roads.
That means that one seventh of the Earth's population is
disconnected from all social and economic activity for some
part of the year.
You cannot get medicine to them.
They cannot get consumer goods.
They cannot get their goods to market in order to create a
sustainable income.
If we look in Sub-Saharan Africa for instance, 85% of
roads are usable in the wet season.
Only 12% of roads are paved.
The quality of roads is going down.
It's worse today than it was 20 years ago.
Investments are being made.
But at the current rate it's estimated it's going to take
Africa 50 years to catch up on road infrastructure.
In the developed part of the world, we have very elaborate,
very complex, expensive infrastructure.
In the US alone we have more than 4 million miles of road.
Now mainstream thinking suggests that the developing
world should go through the same stages of building road
infrastructure we went through.
We want to question that.
We're asking is there a technology that can help us
put a solution today that can help those
countries leap frog?
Imagine this scenario.
You're in the maternity ward in Mali in 2014.
And you have a newborn in need of urgent medication.
Today you would place a request by mobile phone and
hope that the medicine arrives on time.
Sometimes it takes hours, or even days to
transverse bad roads.
We believe we can deliver it within hours or even minutes
with an electric autonomous medical supply
vehicle such as this.
This car has a small payload, about 2 kilograms, over a
short distance, about 10 kilometers.
But it's part of a larger fleet that forms an
ultra-flexible automated logistics network that spans a
bigger region, maybe even the entire continent.
We call this the Matternet.
The idea behind the Matternet is set up a network for
transportation of physical goods that is based on the
ideas of the internet.
The enabling technology is UAVs. We want to harness all
the great work that has been happening in academia in the
open source community and build a platform that can
allow us to do point-to-point delivery, decentralized
peer-to-peer just like the internet.
The second vital ingredient of the network is the automated
ground stations we use.
These are point stations on the ground that the UAVs fly
in and out of in order to swap batteries and fly further or
exchange loads.
The third is the OS that runs the whole network, that
optimizes routes, optimizes the flow of vehicles and goods
through the system.
It optimizes for weather conditions and guarantees the
security of the system so we can guarantee to the
authorities that it's not used for illegal purposes.
Let's look at the technology in some more detail.
The vehicle--
that's a conceptual design of it--
is a hybrid platform.
It's based on multicopter technologies, such as this
copter that we have over here.
So this has vertical takeoff and landing.

It is compatible with our concept of minimal
It has a wing architecture that gives it the lift to drag
ratio comparable to that of a helicopter.
We don't need much.
It flies at the speed the 40 kilometers an hour.
It can fly in winds up to headwinds of 30
kilometers an hour.
It is steered electrically.
So a flies in the rain.
And it flies at an altitude of about 400 feet.
It's optimized for that.
It could to fly much higher.
But that seems optimal from a regulatory perspective.
And we want it to be friendly and safe.
So we will deploy a parachute if we
sense mechanical failure.

In the heart of the vehicles, we have the interchangeable
packet and battery.
So when this vehicle lands into the ground station, the
packet is automatically swapped.
We have a 10 liter packet that can carry 2 kilograms.
Let's look at the ground station.
That's a conceptual design of it.
The main job of the ground station is to create a safe
harbor for the vehicle to go in and land safely.
The vulnerability of the whole mission is the docking part
where you exchange loads and batteries.
So we want to guarantee a safe environment for that.
This happens in the upper part here, where it's a sphere.
The vehicle goes in and lands and docks safely.
The ground station acts as a commercial exchange hub.
So someone comes into the ground station.
They insert the packet.
It goes up, waits in the dock, a UAV takes it to the next
ground station.
And it goes to the destination.
We fly mainly using GPS, sensor fusion, IM unit
pressure sensors, and magnetometers to guarantee
that we can fly even if we lose GPS for a while.
And the idea is that we upload GPS waypoints at the departure
ground station.
When we are in the vicinity of the destination, the
destination ground station takes over with ultra-wideband
sensors [? the ?] camera.
It brings the vehicle in the harbor.
And then we dock it with millimeter accuracy.

So we think we have a big idea.
And we have the technology to make it happen.
The next big question is what's the cost?
Well, it turns out that the cost to run what we call a
mission, which is 2 kilograms over 10 kilometers, is $0.24.
Can you believe it?
When we saw that, we understood even deeper in our
hearts that we are sitting on a paradigm shift.
Let's look at the cost behind it.
The cost of the vehicle is $1000.
We can believe we can achieve it.
We have industrialization.
We have a few trends playing in our way,
like battery costs.
Maintenance is minimal .
Because it has only four moving parts or six moving
parts according to the number of propellers.
And it can have a lifetime of 10 years.
Cost of the ground station, $15,000.
Again lifetime of 10 years.
This will drop substantially as we go through more

Now cost per mission, two kilograms over 10 kilometers
for the vehicle works out to be $0.03.
Battery is $0.09.
We need to replace it every 600 [? sites. ?]
It's conservative estimate.
That cost will go down significantly.
Ground station, $0.10.
Energy for flight, the
counter-intuitive bit, only $0.02.
If we want to run on solar--
the plan is to run in places that don't have great energy--
we need to triple that component, the last one.
So $0.24.
What can we do with this?

We started looking at the problem of HIV/AIDS delivery
in Lesotho.
Lesotho is a very particular case.
It's a country which is very mountainous surrounded by
South Africa.
They have an AIDS epidemic that is threatening the whole
country with extinction.
Over half a million people have the HIV/AIDS virus there.
70% of them live in rural areas.
So we have 400,000 people who need to be tested twice a year
to continue receiving the medication or make sure that
they trace the virus early.
They try to organize this collection of blood samples
through 152 clinics, 19 hospitals with labs.
They cannot get enough people to run the samples from the
clinics to the labs.
And recently we have been reading about the president's
office initiative to use ponies to do it.
Well, we have pony UAV to do it.
Blood sample from clinic to hospital is a problem.
Results from and medicine from hospital to clinic.
We set up a mini Matternet.
And we wanted to get an idea around cost. We looked at the
region of Maseru, 47 clinics there, six labs, 138 square
The cost to solve the problem there is less
than $1 million today.
$1 million according to the World Bank is the cost of
constructing a 2 kilometer one lane road.
Can you believe it?
This is we believe the power of a new paradigm.
Now when we realized what we are creating, we thought, OK.
If it's really a paradigm shift, there
ought to be more x's.
There ought to be other places where this can be working on.
I mean the internet doesn't know boundaries, right?
So we focused on the opposite scale of the problem, not
where we don't have infrastructure, where we have
a lot of it and it doesn't quite work.
So half a billion of us live in megacities.
China is adding a megacity the city of New
York every two years.
It's going to be something that this future of people
living in the cities is only going to be more and more
evident for us in the next few years.
Let's look at Sao Paulo, 21 million
inhabitants, 6 million cars.
It's typical for people to get stuck in traffic three to four
hours a day.
The estimated cost to the government of congestion is
$2.3 billion.
The economy needs to flow of course.
In order to move goods around, they are using 250,000
motoboys courier bikes.
There is a huge social problem around it.
People are killed on the street every day.
There is 500 people on average a year killed in relation to
motobike activity, either pedestrians or bikers
More than that, it's not a scalable solution.
It's not a modern solution for a country and a city that is
having explosive growth like Sao Paulo.
We believe we can solve the problem better.
We can plant stations at the rooftops of buildings or even
the sides of office buildings, you know.
We can have an infrastructure that works 24/7, around the
clock, just like the internet.
So that's our vision.
Matternet will do for physical transportation what the
internet did for the flow of information.

We have this concept called the bandwidth which is
material transported through the system per unit of time.
And we think that's going to go up dramatically.
We have a part of the economy we think that is not currently
expressed with current means of transportation.
We think if we add the layer of transportation that is
dematerialized between the internet and the road, we can
create something that is a new paradigm.
Are there any challenges?
Of course-- legal, business.
There's going to be public perception issues.
It's called changing the world.
Is it worth it?
We think absolutely.
Thank you.
MALE SPEAKER: Let us define x.
x is a solution, a solution to a seemingly insurmountable
problem like climate change or cancer, one
that affects the world.
But what if we redefine x as a challenge, an opportunity for
radical thinking, a chance to light up the world with
breakthrough ideas and cutting edge technology, the stuff of
science fiction that just might fly after all.
Solving for x requires wonder and imagination and a vision
to build seemingly impossible solutions to the world's
biggest problems. Solve For x.
Moonshot Thinking.