Experimenting Autonomous Techniques at Atlanta Metro – WABE

The Powder Springs shopping center is at noon and part of the parking lot is closed.

A crew of four operators wearing bright yellow safety vests and talking on headsets prepare to deliver lunch using a drone. A large foil-wrapped pizza box is secured to the device, and after a few seconds, the propeller blades begin to rotate, lifting the drone into the air.

Kevin Kafa, Vice President of Digital at Papa John’s, said:

This pilot program promises that pizza will be delivered to your home in 15 minutes as long as you live within range.

“Ultimately, how can we get the pizza to our customers as soon as possible?” Kafa asked. “So we started looking at solutions and said that, as you know, this looks like a great pilot to launch for us.”

Due to the shortage of workers, many companies are looking to technology as an alternative to moving goods and people.

Papa Johns’ partner in this experiment is Drone Express, a company based in Dayton, Ohio.

CEO Beth Flippo said: The company has been in the drone business since 2019 and started discussing pizza delivery with Papa John’s a year ago.

“The biggest thing we had to do was develop a winch that slowly lowered the pizza to the ground,” she said. “And it took the most effort from us. It works perfectly and can carry a fair amount of weight, but one of the biggest challenges is to make this winch perfectly horizontal every time. Was to. “

She says that many human overseers are involved as we are still in the early stages of drone delivery. The law also requires them to keep the drone in sight.

But in the end, these drones will use artificial intelligence to do most of this work on their own.

“Looking at the drone, I think there are a lot of moving parts. It’s a mechanical system. We think of it as an intelligence system and we’re thinking about how it communicates with the world around us.” Flippo said. “That is, attacking this type of air travel is another way.”

And she says that food delivery isn’t the only reliance on drone delivery in the coming years.

“Many construction companies have shown interest. Many construction sites have been closed due to small items,” she said. “And auto parts. How many of us are stuck on the side of the road, or have an accident and people can’t get through? You can save lives just by getting someone to get a fire extinguisher. “

Self-driving shuttle

At Peachtree Corners, the Curiosity Lab helps the community build its reputation as a “living laboratory” for technology.

So it’s no wonder that some of Georgia’s first self-driving cars are here.

A fleet of small autonomous shuttles running along Peachtree Corners’ Technology Parkway is the product of an Orlando-based technology startup called Beep.

The company’s chief technology officer is Clayton Tino, a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology. Beep has autonomous shuttles in more than 12 locations nationwide. But Tino says the two places are not the same.

“As an example, Peachtree Corners takes LiDAR devices and drives them along tender routes to create very high-resolution 3D maps,” says Tino. “Next, as an example, we burn some semantics in terms of how we expect other road users and potential pedestrians to work in that environment to give context to the shuttle. will be included.

“From there, there’s the process of actually building the route we expect,” he said.

He says the next step is to increase the speed of the shuttle while maintaining safety, and to increase the reach of the shuttle in and beyond other parts of Metro Atlanta.

Tino states that these external factors make road autonomy much more difficult than maneuvering in the air.

“The good thing about airspace is that it’s tightly restricted and structured,” Tino said. “I’m sure you’ve experienced driving in the city of Atlanta, so structure isn’t the word I use to describe what’s happening on the road.”

For more information on this story, see this episode of WABE TechCast.

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