Autonomous Systems and Robotics

By John Reis (Edits by Kayla Nakai)

In this ever-changing world of convenience, we are using technology to do jobs that are repetitious, medial, and dangerous. That is why robotics unmanned vehicles, drones, and underwater submersibles have gained popularity with manufacturers and governments, either military or federal state, and local. The possibilities and use cases are literally endless. Think back just three decades ago on the technologies that have been brought to the forefront over this 30-year span. The internet was still a child, and there were no Drones or unmanned driverless cars or social media. Wow, how things have changed over a 30 year old’s lifetime. The current path that technology is taking and the evolution technology has provided us with is unlimited. The last 30 years has given us so many day to day things we now have and cannot live without.

Let’s talk about unmanned systems and vehicles. Driverless vehicles are becoming more prevalent in our society and will gain acceptability and popularity as we march toward 2030. From luxury cars to work horse trucks, we are increasingly utilizing technology to enhance, protect, and preserve. Enriching our lives by making things simpler with drive assist and braking systems, for example. We protect our troops and get them out of harm’s way by enhancing their ability to look for threats in many ways from an unmanned autonomous vehicle that is being controlled by an individual, potentially miles away. Preserving the sanctity of the environment with the thrust of renewable energy enhances, protects and ensures life and the future of the planet. These are just some of the many ways unmanned systems play an integral part in emerging technologies advancing the intelligence revolution. Next, let’s focus on some use cases that have demonstrated how these have played out.

Use Cases

Autonomous vehicle Network. In this scenario, we have a battlefield of the future where we have Surveillance and Recognizant Robotic devices on the ground. We also have low-altitude drones for short-range surveillance with minimal distance and flight time.  These potential devices could be low-cost throwaway devices. We have larger-scale Drones in the air for longer-distance Surveillance and Reconnaissance missions, and even high-altitude drones that could be carrying weapons. Now, imagine all of these devices in concert on the battlefield communicating as a symphony of information flow through these devices. They are reporting to a tactical operation center monitoring and making decisions based upon the Edge computing flow of information, whether that is voice data or video in real-time.

One can see the advantages of this type of battlefield network these machines perform: not only do they operate 24/7, they do not get tired, make no mistake, and are efficient. They do not have a bad day or a good day: only a productive and safe day. So, we have drones in the air, unmanned robotic vehicles on the ground, and we have a base camp miles away from harm to human life. The battlefield of the future is here and now the military that capitalizes on technologies and the country that manufactures these types of highly designed and engineered platforms WINS! To come full circle, these platforms operate within a completely self-contained, secure, and self- reliant ecosystem of technology!

Now, let’s talk a little more about how these types of things can, and already have, enhance our lives in the IoT robotic markets. We have large-scale IoT in every household from smart thermostats to live streaming TV and voice-activated devices that search the internet for you and verbalize the response. Technology is potentially limitless. If you can dream, you probably can do, with a little help from technology.

We are very fortunate people to have lived through the invention of many things in a 30 year time frame. With the explosion of the cell phone, those who lived through the landline phone and remote less TV era, remember the earlier days, when more manual activities was the norm. Those who went through it know what it was like, and this generation also set out to find better ways of doing things, and realizing for one comical but very true example, “why do I need to get up off the couch to change the channel?”

The evolution technology has provided us with is unlimited.

Imagine how many times a week you change the channel on your TV. Now, multiply that by how many steps you take to the TV each day, week, and thousands of steps suddenly accumulate. With an easier system of operation, such the invention of the remote was born, easing the use to change channels with one simple click! Technology has saved us time at every corner we choose to implement it in to. Just look at fast food restaurants. We do not even order from a person when a kiosk takes our order and sends it to the cooks to fulfill. This enhances our everyday lives in so many ways that we do not even think of how much time it saves in this seamless experience. Technology is changing the world every day: every marketplace, every job on the planet will be affected by technology, or already has been.

Next, Underwater Submersibles (UUVs) are transforming the military space, oceanography, communications, monitoring sea level temperatures, and mapping the ocean floor. This technology makes it easy for US Navy and maritime applications to occur. How? UUVs are underwater submersibles that communicate with a command center typically on board a vessel close to the vessel. The UUV can either be tethered to allow real time communications transfer to the command center, or by autonomous data transmission, once the UUV comes to the surface. The latter will have a difficult time communicating in real-time with the vessel or command center due to being under the water. The only effective way to communicate is to have the totally autonomous device set off on its mission, and upon completion, have the UUV surface for data transmission to the C2 Center (Command and control operations team). The former method transmits mission data directly to the vessel C2, providing actionable decision making data to respond to.

Now, let’s go way out into the future. Some of you remember the scene in Back to the Future where Michael J. Fox speaks to his boss via a television set, 30 years before Teams, Zoom, or any other video conferencing technology was a mainstay. Thank God the 2 length tie he is wearing in this picture never took off, or who knows what kind of world we’d be living in. But that’s the idea, we can envision any future we want.

Let’s look out 30 years from now. So here we sit in 2053. Where is technology and what parts are enhancing our everyday lives?

Flying cars, telemedicine, and robotics are fighting all conflicts of war. Satellite communications, enhanced energy, public safety, and identity safety are becoming more and more advanced by technology, and underground travel at high speed will limit traffic on our road ways. Cashiers are no longer manning our stores, manned warehouses are all robotically controlled, manned delivery vehicles are no longer on the roads delivering things to us, and unmanned warehouses are the norm, just to name a few.

Things that have disappeared from our everyday lives in 2053 are brick-and-mortar shopping venues, unclean water, and cancer and other diseases, thanks to the CRISPR. A CRISPR is a family of DNA sequences found in the genomes of prokaryotic organisms such as bacteria and archaea. These sequences are derived from DNA fragments of bacteriophages that had previously infected the prokaryote. They are used to detect and destroy DNA from similar bacteriophages during subsequent infections. This is certainly a medical technology breakthrough that is being perfected and developed by many biotech companies around the world, and by this future depiction of 2053, has been a catalyst for advancement in preserving quality of life with eradicating or at least controlling many of these life threatening diseases.

So, let’s play around with these topics…

Flying vehicles for personal use are a mainstay in 2053 running on Hydrogen, are controlled via Satcom for accident prevention, and auto GPS to drive the vehicle from point A to point B. Traffic alleviation is key as the planet increases to a population of 10 billion. Underground transportation is crucial in the balance of life and existence, above and below the earth, allowing the explosion of the population to move more effectively with fluidity around the globe. Elon Musk at the tender age of 82 is now the world’s first trillionaire. The colonization of Mars has not only brought him to the stratosphere of epic proportions, but has also shown sustainable life is feasibly possible on another planet.

Pivoting a bit, let’s look at a rendering of an air ambulance of the future. Carrying patients to a medical center from incident location becomes faster and easier, and survival rates after injury or life threatening accidents is over 99%. This is thanks to autonomous ambulance vehicle first responders, total control robotic surgeons on board handling catastrophic injuries, and patient stabilization prior to getting them to a full service hospital.

Transportation in the future

Underground transit from the Boring Company is the preferred choice of travel, moving people from continent to continent efficiently and effectively. Here is a 2020 rendering depicting a window into where this potential technology could transport us, and future generations, across the world with ease, in a cost effective, and comfortable way. Can you imagine traveling from NYC under the Atlantic Ocean and popping up in London, all the while expending no carbon emissions? On a high speed vehicle that will ride on magnetic rails at speeds of 400 mph or greater?

So, what is some of the infrastructure needed to get there that will increase the likelihood of this invention successfully taking off, to enhance the feasibility and experience? Sustainable infrastructures to support travel and life underground. Doing business on your long journey and staying at an underground hotel are entirely possible, which means the systems would need to be in place to support this. A trip “across the pond” becomes a phrase of the past, and “under the pond” is the new norm. The 3451 mile journey from NYC to London would take approximately 8.5 hours at a speed of 400mph with individual underground vehicles.

On the flipside, if we were to put in a high speed bullet train that rode on magnetic rails at 600 mph, this would cut that trip down to sub 6 hours. Not only would it help the ever growing traffic congestion issue, in numerous ways time, energy, and resources would be saved. Just think: a trip from NYC to DC via underground transit would take you 15-20 Minutes! All with no traffic, airport or TSA lines!

2053 Telemedicine:

Let’s assume that there has been a way to take the virtual into the real here, in this depiction of the future. We already have an EKG machine that can identify the 3 major causes of heart defects from your cell phone. Or how about taking the Elizabeth Holmes Theranos approach to identifying disease with a small droplet of blood, analyzing it through a quantum computer over the internet, and providing the doctor with a path to curing the patient in question? With CRISPR technologies, patients have access to cancer vaccines, treatments, and lifesaving cures, and replace Diseased DNA with healthy DNA. Technology will be a huge part of the future of medicine. I believe in just 75 years, we will be living to the age of 150.

With an extended lifespan, we would likely work until 125 to 130 years of age. How would we remain mobile and agile, replace failing organs, and allow human life to be sustainable and extended for this length of time? Through technology. Growing organs like hearts, lungs, kidneys, and livers in labs will effectively become a new enhanced market for technology to prolong quality of life. Mobility and getting around at 130 years old may or may not be a challenge in the future with aids in transportation. By effectively taking robotic enhancements to the next level, mobility will not be an issue in the future. This would be thanks to the advent of enhanced robotic limbs provided by the “Arm and a Leg” company, run by an 82 year old Musk, the Edison and Tesla, of our generation.


The need for humans to fill certain functional operational positions that are being replaced by robotics continues to evolve and happen around us: for example, Cashiers at Brick and Mortar stores are being replaced by self-checkouts, milk delivery drivers like we saw in the 70s have disappeared, and have been replaced by auto deliveries at the push of a button from an online marketplace, just to name a few.

Geo political conflicts

Wars of the future or major conflicts as we are seeing today in Ukraine will be totally fought by robots, whether they are humanoid or drones. UUV and other warfare technologies we used in the past to prevent the loss of human life will be null in the military conflict going forward. A/I is now the leading technology in all facets of our everyday lives, and it will only continue to be a mainstay and reality, enhancing quality of life in this new, modern world.

In conclusion, we could see some very impressive and potentially outlandish things come to fruition in the next 30-75 years. Teleportation, brain transplants, spinal cord rejuvenation, fueling transportation vehicles on recycled trash to eliminate landfills are all possible, if we put our minds to it and find a system of operation to feasibly make them a reality. Perhaps heating and cooling our homes ran completely on waste? Who knows, maybe there is a path to getting it done. Insert your thoughts anywhere here if you can dream it, because the possibilities are endless, and are only as limitless as our imaginations. So let’s let those ideas come to fruition, turning a passing thought into a practical and functioning vehicle of existence. Life state, or invention.

Without the exploration of our thoughts, nothing would ever get accomplished, and that is the beauty of it. Technology has evolved to jaw dropping level, and only continues to progress. And we all possess the unlimited potential, individually, and collectively as a society and as the human race, to achieve amazing things. So, let’s get to work. Dream it, do it.

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