The Long Road to Autonomous Vehicles Begins with Understanding Them – Core77
“People think that AI will take care of everything,” says Hansol Hong. There are plenty who think it’s just as likely to destroy everything, but the cofounder and CEO of Robolink is a proud optimist. “There’s a huge pushback against accepting AI. But whether we want it or not, it’s coming. We have to learn to guide AI in the right direction.”
His latest Kickstarter project, Zümi, is designed to help us engage with the same technology that powers real-world autonomous vehicles and robots, so that we can at least understand how the robot overlords work. His team’s prototypes of small programmable toy cars take some of the mystery out of machine vision, routing algorithms, and Python programming. When the full fleet is shipped out to backers, Zümi will help teach kids—and playful adults—that they can have a hand in shaping the future of AI.
AI is the job skill of the future
“I want to make sure that we use technology for good, and show that AI is not so hard or scary,” says Hong. “I think that AI will be an essential skill set, like how programming became a vocational skill set today. AI will be like electricity or the internet. Everyone will be using it.” We’ll be better off if we’re conversant in the technology, he says.
Robotics fans are already clamoring for it
Hong himself is fairly new to the subject matter. After studying economics and industrial engineering at UC San Diego, he and his roommate started a small business teaching kids to program simple robots. They’ve now taught 10,000 students and worked with more than 1,000 schools. Hong’s robotics meetup for adults has more than 1,500 people on the mailing list. Robolink has raised more than $250,000 for two other educational robotics kits on Kickstarter.