Our world is experiencing an unprecedented shift from manually controlled technologies to increasingly intelligent and autonomous systems powered by artificial intelligence (AI). I believe that this radical shift in both efficiency and productivity can have significant positive social impact when it is channeled responsibly, locally and sustainably.
This is why my team and I founded WeRobotics, the only organization fully dedicated to accelerating and scaling the positive impact of humanitarian, development and environmental projects through the appropriate use of AI-powered robotics solutions. I’m thrilled to announce that the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation shares our vision—indeed, the Foundation has just awarded WeRobotics a start-up grant to take Humanitarian Robotics to the next level. We’re excited to leverage the positive power of robotics to help build a more resilient world in line with Rockefeller’s important vision.
Aerial Robotics (drones/UAVs) represent the first wave of robotics to impact humanitarian sectors by disrupting traditional modes of data collection and cargo delivery. Both timely data and the capacity to act on this data are integral to aid, development and environmental projects. This is why we are co-creating and co-hosting global network of “Flying Labs”; to transfer appropriate aerial robotics solutions and relevant skills to outstanding local partners in developing countries who need these the most.
Our local innovation labs also present unique opportunities for our Technology Partners—robotics companies and institutes. Indeed, our growing network of Flying Labs offer a multitude of geographical, environmental and social conditions for ethical social good projects and responsible field-testing; from high-altitude glaciers and remote archipelagos experiencing rapid climate change to dense urban environments in the tropics subject to intense flooding and endangered ecosystems facing cascading environmental risks.
The Labs also provide our Technology Partners with direct access to local knowledge, talent and markets, and in turn provide local companies and entrepreneurs with facilitated access to novel robotics solutions. In the process, our local partners become experts in different aspects of robotics, enabling them to become service providers and drive new growth through local start-up’s and companies. The Labs thus seek to offer robotics-as-a-service across multiple local sectors. As such, the Labs follow a demand-driven social entrepreneurship model designed to catalyze local businesses while nurturing learning and innovation.
Of course, there’s more to robotics than just aerial robotics. This is why we’re also exploring the use of AI-powered terrestrial and maritime robotics for data collection and cargo delivery. We’ll add these solutions to our portfolio as they become more accessible in the future. In the meantime, sincerest thanks to the Rockefeller Foundation for their trust and invaluable support. Big thanks also to our outstanding Board of Directors and to key colleagues for their essential feed-back and guidance.
I’m very excited for you and your team Patrick! There are so many things here that are really really fascinating– I’m especially interested to hear more about the idea of “Robotics as a Service.”
Thanks very much, Sean! 🙂
First – Congratulations! but….Did you actually get FAA approved to conduct this research in the USA? Exemption 333 status? I see where the business address is in the USA. You actually have commercial/recreational certified pilots flying these drones in a research environment? My friend, this would be the 2nd case where I’ve heard of this – the first was at Disaster City, by Texas A&M, I believe. Simply put, to conduct drone research in the USA is unheard of. Sad, but true.
Thanks for reading and for your note, Connie. If you read closely the announcement re Rockefeller on WeRobotics.org and have a look at our WeRobotics website, you’ll note that our efforts are entirely geared towards building local capacity in developing countries. To this end, we do not need the US FAA’s approval for our projects overseas.