Indian born billionaire and philanthropist Tej Kohli observed that 285 million people in the world have visual impairment, with 39 million people already blind. Among the total number of blind people, about 12-14 million people are in India. Research shows that poverty is one of the factors that influence blindness. Kohli questions why nothing is being done about the situation, when blindness, including corneal disease could be avoided.
TejKohli provided an answer to his own question, when he said, ‘Close your eyes for 10 minutes and you will find there’s nothing you can do.”
”Blindness” in machines
Kohli, who is a backer of robotics and AI fund Rewired, believes that the situation also affects machines. He says that robots in industrial and household applications including the robot vacuums are essentially blind. Despite all the advances in robotic technology, many robots are still unable to cope with the inherent unpredictability of uncontrolled environments in many real world applications.
Enhancing sensory recognition
Robots that are created to interact with humans still rely on various emerging technologies. Rewired, a venture studio focused on robotics, has a mission to enable robots to absorb sensory information and to use this to interact effectively within the environment the robot is in as well as collaborate with humans.
To achieve this endeavor, Rewired needs to work with a diverse group of software and hardware companies that are developing sensor systems, new data modalities, novel approaches to machine vision and viable neural interfaces as well as a slew of supporting AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning.
Transferring technology to cars
TejKohli, taking a cue from developing sensory information technology, wants to have it applied to automobiles. Major automobile companies are developing and/or testing self-driving cars or autonomous cars today. A self-driving car is able to sense its environment and is capable of navigation without receiving input from a human.
Various technologies collaborate in order for autonomous cars to detect their surroundings, such as computer vision, odometry, GPS, laser light and radar. Still, it is not enough because the sensors for this type of car are still inadequate.
Industry developers are exploring the use of lidar or Light Detection and Ranging technology. However, the current price of high-end lidar is prohibitive. Tej Kohli sees the current situation as cars still being blind. He finds that there is still a need for a reliable, affordable and scalable means to add better ”sight” to the sensory fields of autonomous cars. Later the technology can also be applied to other machines.
Kohli envisions that ending ”machine blindness” can make robots truly effective in enhancing human capabilities and life the quality of life.
TejKohli, who is funding a variety of innovative projects to benefit humans, has made it his mission to restore the vision of millions of people affected by blindness and visual impairment. At the same time, he’s supporting projects to enable machines to see and perceive.
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