` Adam Bry, 27
Building drones that can navigate the world and serve as airborne assistants.
“At the company I cofounded, Skydio, we looked at all the things people wanted to do with drones and realized that the products are primitive compared to what’s possible. Today the typical consumer experience is you take it out of the box and run it into a tree.
“We’re building a drone for consumers that understands the physical world, reacts to you intelligently, and can use that information to make decisions. It has cameras positioned in a way so that computer vision can track its motion and understand the 3-D structure of the world. It also understands ‘This is a person,’ ‘This is a tree.’ We’ve demonstrated the ability to fly autonomously in close proximity to obstacles such as trees safely and reliably, and to follow someone walking, running, or cycling.
“On a week-to-week basis you can see the thing getting smarter and being capable of more. It shows up in the way it behaves and responds in different situations.
“We aren’t saying a lot about our product yet, but it’ll be a high-end consumer device smart enough to fly itself as well as or better than an expert pilot. Devices that understand the world and can respond to you and take actions will open up things that don’t exist today. A flying camera that can be anywhere around you would be a very powerful thing. Drones are likely to be the first widely deployed category of mobile robot. As they start to get out into the world and people start to interact with them, it’s going to lead to some interesting places.”
—as told to Tom Simonite