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12 Jul 12:22

Research: The Average Age of a Successful Startup Founder Is 45

by Pierre Azoulay
jul18-11-498927582--Patricia de Melo Moreira-bloomberg
Patricia de Melo Moreira/bloomberg/Getty Images

It’s widely believed that the most successful entrepreneurs are young. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg were in their early twenties when they launched what would become world-changing companies. Do these famous cases reflect a generalizable pattern? VC and media accounts seem to suggest so. When we analyzed founders who have won TechCrunch awards over the last decade, the average age at the time of founding was just 31. For the people selected by Inc. magazine as the founders of the fastest-growing startups in 2015, the average age at founding was only 29. Consistent with these findings, Paul Graham, a cofounder of Y Combinator, once quipped that “the cutoff in investors’ heads is 32… After 32, they start to be a little skeptical.” But is this view correct?

Debunking the Myth of the Young Entrepreneur

Our team analyzed the age of all business founders in the U.S. in recent years by leveraging confidential administrative data sets from the U.S. Census Bureau. We found that the average age of entrepreneurs at the time they founded their companies is 42. But the vast majority of these new businesses are likely small businesses with no intentions to grow large (for example, dry cleaners and restaurants). To focus on businesses that are closer in spirit to the prototypical high-tech startup, we used a variety of indicators: whether the firm was granted a patent, received VC investment, or operated in an industry that employs a high fraction of STEM workers. We also focused on the location of the firm, in particular whether it was in an entrepreneurial hub such as Silicon Valley. In general, these finer-grained analyses do not modify the main conclusion: The average age of high-tech founders falls in the early forties.

These averages, however, hide a large amount of variation across industries. In software startups, the average age is 40, and younger founders aren’t uncommon. However, young people are less common in other industries such as oil and gas or biotechnology, where the average age is closer to 47. The preeminent place of young founders in the popular imagination may therefore reflect disproportionate exposure to a handful of consumer-facing IT industries, such as social media, rather than equally consequential pursuits in heavy industry or business-to-business sectors.



But what about the most successful startups? Is it possible that companies started by younger entrepreneurs are particularly successful? Among the top 0.1% of startups based on growth in their first five years, we find that the founders started their companies, on average, when they were 45 years old. These highest-performing firms were identified based on employment growth. The age finding is similar using firms with the fastest sales growth instead, and founder age is similarly high for those startups that successfully exit through an IPO or acquisition. In other words, when you look at most successful firms, the average founder age goes up, not down. Overall, the empirical evidence shows that successful entrepreneurs tend to be middle-aged, not young.

In part, the dominance of middle-aged founders in starting the highest-growth companies reflects the propensity of middle-aged people to start ventures. Middle-aged people take many more bites at the apple. However, when you look at success rates conditional on actually starting a company, the evidence against youthful entrepreneurial success becomes even sharper. Among those who have started a firm, older entrepreneurs have a substantially higher success rate. Our evidence points to entrepreneurial performance rising sharply with age before cresting in the late fifties. If you were faced with two entrepreneurs and knew nothing about them besides their age, you would do better, on average, betting on the older one.



Why might this be? Although there are many other factors that may explain the age advantage in entrepreneurship, we found that work experience plays a critical role. Relative to founders with no relevant experience, those with at least three years of prior work experience in the same narrow industry as their startup were 85% more likely to launch a highly successful startup.

But What About Steve Jobs?

Although we have looked at extraordinarily successful firms — the top 0.1% by growth as well as the rare outcome of successful acquisition or IPO — one might still wonder if even more extreme outlier firms are started by the very young. Interestingly, however, when you study notable outliers such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, or Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the growth rates of their businesses in terms of market capitalization peaked when these founders were middle-aged. Steve Jobs and Apple introduced the company’s most profitable innovation, the iPhone, when Jobs was 52. Jeff Bezos and Amazon have moved far beyond selling books online, and Amazon’s future market cap growth rate was highest when Bezos was 45. These prominent founders may not have peaked when very young. Extremely talented entrepreneurs may have unusual acumen — allowing them to succeed when they are very young — yet still see greater success as they age. Thus there is no fundamental tension between the existence of great young entrepreneurs and a general tendency for founders to reach their peak entrepreneurial potential later in life.

Why Do VC Investors Tend to Bet on Young Founders?

In light of this evidence, why do some VCs persist in betting on young founders? We cannot definitively answer this question with the data at our disposal, but we believe that two mechanisms could be at play. First, many VCs may operate under a mistaken belief that youth is the elixir of successful entrepreneurship — in other words, VCs are simply wrong. Though it is tempting to see age bias as the leading explanation for the divergence between our findings and investor behavior, there is a more benign possibility: VCs are not simply looking to identify the firms with the highest growth potential. Rather, they may seek investments that will yield the highest returns, and it is possible that young founders are more financially constrained than more experienced ones, leading them to cede upside to investors at a lower price. In other words, younger entrepreneurs may be a better “deal” for investors than more experienced founders.

The next step for researchers is to explore what exactly explains the advantage of middle-aged founders. For example, is it due to greater access to financial resources, deeper social networks, or certain forms of experience? In the meantime, it appears that advancing age is a powerful feature, not a bug, for starting the most successful firms.

10 Jul 19:20

Self-Driving Skepticism

by Planetizen
Autonomous vehicles have many evangelists, but perhaps they need more skeptics.
10 Jul 17:48

A Plan for Even Cheaper Train Travel Between Paris and London

by Feargus O'Sullivan

The trains that roll through the Channel Tunnel between London and Paris have proved a roaring success since they launched in 1994, and a new proposal could make them accessible to even more people.

Getlink, the company that manages the tunnel, is exploring a way to run lower-cost routes through the tunnel that could result in ticket prices between 25 and 30 percent lower than current rates. The idea is to follow an existing French model for cheaper intercity travel that cuts costs by using older tracks and suburban terminuses. So far, research into a cheaper service has focused on if and how it might be feasible, rather than exactly when—but has found that such a service is eminently implementable and viable along the lines of companies already in existence. Before that happens, however, the company will have to iron out a few kinks in the international train system—and find its place in an already busy and fairly affordable market.

To North Americans, travel between London and Paris at existing prices might already seem like a steal. Last-minute buys can be pricey, but book far enough in advance and you can expect to pay less than $100 for a round-trip ticket, whether by plane or train. In advance, some existing train services can already be cheaper than flying. Looking at tickets for this coming October, the lowest round-trip prices for both train and plane are around £58 ($77), making the plane more expensive when you factor in the cost of traveling to the airport. It’s only in the month prior to departure that train tickets move markedly ahead of planes.

So how could a new train service find a niche in this market? By treading a middle path: being slightly cheaper than the current Eurostar train service, and slightly more convenient than going out to a far-flung airport. That’s how France’s current low-cost train services, Izy and Ouigo, work. They cut costs by using cheaper suburban railway stations and using older tracks, where fees per mile are lower. The trick to their survival is that these stations aren’t that far out of the way, while their speed still leaves even the fastest Amtrak services in the dust.

Ouigo’s service between Paris and Marseille, for example, may require passengers to board the train way out in suburban Marne La Vallée, but with a journey time of three hours and nineteen minutes, it only takes four minutes longer than the fastest service available through TGV, France’s intercity high-speed rail service. Izy’s service from Brussels to Paris, meanwhile, takes an hour longer than the superfast one-hour-and-twenty-two minute service provided by Thalys, but it still serves the exact same city-center stations.

This seems to be the model for the new Getlink service, which would take an estimated three hours to travel between Paris and London. That’s admittedly longer than the fastest train service currently available (two hours and seventeen minutes)—but bearably so. The thornier question is which stations to use. Opt for a terminus that’s too far out of town and lengthy onward transit could make the service far less attractive.

Just as significant is the issue of passport controls. As with Eurostar’s new London-to-Amsterdam service, British border requirements mean that each station within the Schengen common border area that is served by an international service needs its own border checkpoints on site. British customs refuse to check passports on the train itself, meaning the Paris and London stations would need to create fully secured platforms with booths for border guards in order to accommodate these cheaper rail services.

London already has a suitable candidate for such a facility, suggests French newspaper Journal du Dimanche: Stratford International Station. It was set up next to the 2012 Olympic Park to cater to international arrivals, but was never actually used for that purpose. Stratford is almost ready to go as an international station; it’s also well connected to London’s public transit network and not that far out of town.

In Paris, French media speculation suggests that the most likely candidate would be the station at Roissy Charles De Gaulle Airport, which is already used by some Ouigo services. There, it’s possible some border staff could be shared by the airport. The airport’s location is, as you’d expect, decidedly suburban, but it is on the RER suburban rail network, with trains to the heart of the city taking a little over half an hour.

All of these options make the cheap train plan feasible, and the study gives the green light to move to the next stage: building border facilities and negotiating fees. It may still take some time to begin those preparations, however. In the long-run, a successful version of the plan might seriously challenge the wisdom of operating flights between the British and French capitals. It’s not just that flying is a more polluting form of transit. When it’s not faster, cheaper, or more convenient, one has to wonder exactly who would continue to fly.

20 Jun 17:25

Tesla Sues Former Employee Amid Crackdown on 'Sabotage'

Tesla accused a former employee in a lawsuit of hacking into its computer system to steal company data and send it to an unnamed third party.
13 Jun 20:41

Civilization 0.000: Floating Power Station Generates Electricity from Three Renewable Energy Sources

by TheFuture

We have relied on burning fossil fuels for thousand of years to generate energy, we definitely need better ways to do that without harming our environment. Civilization 0.000 is a futuristic floating power station designed by Dimo Ivanov that takes advantage of our renewable energy sources to generate electricity. This structure is dedicated for Cape […]

Civilization 0.000: Floating Power Station Generates Electricity from Three Renewable Energy Sources is originally posted on Tuvie - Modern Industrial Design

11 Jun 12:46

Uber could teach its AI to know when you're drunk

by Daniel Cooper
Problematic transportation outfit Uber is thinking about a way to use your phone to determine if you've been drinking. A patent application was uncovered by CNN, entitled "Predicting user state using machine learning," which outlines the general idea...
11 Jun 12:45

Invented at Duke, Financed in Beijing: Powerful Spy Camera Shows China's AI Ambition

After failing to win over financial backers and customers in the U.S., David Brady moved his tech startup to China. The project’s shift east offers insight into how China is emerging as a global player in pioneering technologies.
07 Jun 19:53

A Snake Appeared in The Car While a Woman Was Driving, And Nothing Is Safe Anymore

by Dana Hedgpeth, The Washington Post

Animal control called to the scene did not cope very well.

30 May 20:12

Self-driving cars must reduce traffic fatalities by at least 75 percent to stay on the roads

(Society for Risk Analysis) The race is on for companies to present their driverless cars to the public, but recent collisions involving autonomous vehicles developed by Uber Technologies Inc. and Tesla Inc. have led consumers to questions whether these vehicles can alleviate traffic issues and increase safety. A new study published in Risk Analysis examined the question 'How safe is safe enough for self-driving vehicles (SDVs)?'
30 May 20:04

How People Analytics Can Help You Change Process, Culture, and Strategy

by Chantrelle Nielsen
Kenneth Andersson for HBR

It seems like every business is struggling with the concept of transformation. Large incumbents are trying to keep pace with digital upstarts., and even digital native companies born as disruptors know that they need to transform. Take Uber: at only eight years old, it’s already upended the business model of taxis. Now it’s trying to move from a software platform to a robotics lab to build self-driving cars.

And while the number of initiatives that fall under the umbrella of “transformation” is so broad that it can seem meaningless, this breadth is actually one of the defining characteristic that differentiates transformation from ordinary change. A transformation is a whole portfolio of change initiatives that together form an integrated program.

And so a transformation is a system of systems, all made up of the most complex system of all — people. For this reason, organizational transformation is uniquely suited to the analysis, prediction, and experimental research approach of the people analytics field.

People analytics — defined as the use of data about human behavior, relationships and traits to make business decisions — helps to replace decision making based on anecdotal experience, hierarchy and risk avoidance with higher-quality decisions based on data analysis, prediction, and experimental research. In working with several dozen Fortune 500 companies with Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics division, we’ve observed companies using people analytics in three main ways to help understand and drive their transformation efforts.

Insight Center

In core functional or process transformation initiatives — which are often driven by digitization — we’ve seen examples of people analytics being used to measure activities and find embedded expertise. In one example, a people analytics team at a global CPG company was enlisted to help optimize a financial process that took place monthly in every country subsidiary around the world. The diversity of local accounting rules precluded perfect standardization, and the geographic dispersion of the teams made it hard for the transformation group to gather information the way they normally would — in conversation.

So instead of starting with discovery conversations, people analytics data was used to baseline the time spent on the process in every country, and to map the networks of the people involved. They discovered that one country was 16% percent more efficient than the average of the rest of the countries: they got the same results in 71 fewer person-hours per month and with 40 fewer people involved each month. The people analytics team was surprised — as was finance team in that country, which had no reason to benchmark themselves against other countries and had no idea that they were such a bright spot. The transformation office approached the country finance leaders with their findings and made them partners in process improvement for the rest of the subsidiaries.

It’s unlikely the CPG company would have been able to recognize and replicate these bright spots if they had undertaken transformation with a top-down approach. And, perhaps more importantly, it involved and engaged the people on the ground who had unwittingly discovered a better way of doing things.

In bottoms-up cultural transformation initiatives, the how things are done is equally or more important than what is done. Feedback loops and other methods of data-driven storytelling are our favorite way that people analytics makes culture transformation happen. Often times, facts can change the conversation from tired head-nodding to curiosity. One people analytics team in an engineering company was struggling to help develop the company’s managers, for example. Managers often perpetuated a “sink or swim” culture that didn’t fit the company’s aspirations to be an inclusive, humane workplace. The data analysis found that teams whose managers spent at least 16 minutes of one-on-one time with each direct per week had 30% percent more engaged direct reports than the average manager, who spent just 9 minutes per week with directs. When they brought that data-driven story to the front lines, suddenly a platitude was transformed into a useful benchmark that got the attention of managers. In this way, data storytelling is a lightweight way to build trust among stakeholders and bring behavioral science to culture transformation.

Top-down strategic transformation is often made necessary by market and technology factors outside the company, but here people analytics is a critical factor for execution. A people analytics team can serve as an instrument panel of sorts to track resources, boundaries, capacity, time use, networks, skill sets, performance, and mindsets that can help pinpoint where change is possible and can measure what happens when you try it.

One people analytics team at a financial services company was trying to help the CEO manage growth while he worked to instill a new culture in which departments would be asked to run leaner and more competitive in the market – “scrappy” and “hungry” were terms that often came up. As the transformation accelerated, teams were asked to do more with less, generate more data, and make decisions faster. Amid this, department leaders began to hear anecdotes about burnout and change fatigue and questioned whether the pace was sustainable. To address this, the people analytics team provided their CEO with a dashboard showing the number of hours that knowledge workers were active for in different teams. When an entire team is over-utilized, he knows they can’t handle more change, while under- or unevenly utilized teams might be more receptive. He can also slice the dashboard by tenure, to learn whether recent hires have been effectively onboarded before approving new hire requests to absorb extra work.



As organizations increasingly look to data to help them in their transformation efforts, it’s important to remember that this doesn’t just mean having more data or better charts. It’s about mastering the organizational muscle of using data to make better decisions; to hypothesize, experiment, measure and adapt. It’s not easy. But through careful collection and analysis of the right data, a major transformation can be a little less daunting – and hopefully a little more successful.

29 May 16:39

How Will Artificial Intelligence Affect the Risk of Nuclear War?

by Thomas Hornigold

As technology has progressed, humans have become ever more powerful. With this power comes great opportunity and great risk. Nowhere is this clearer than in the potential of artificial intelligence. But a new report from the RAND corporation suggests that our misconceptions about what the technology can do may be as dangerous as the technology itself.

If you’re a singularity believer, according to the RAND report, “Superintelligence would render the world unrecognizable and either save or destroy humanity in the process.” A world with human-level AI could be unimaginably different to the world of today—and difficult to make predictions about.

Yet society is trying to adjust to the smart algorithms (“weak AI”) that increasingly influence our lives. A recent report outlined the potential for AI capabilities to be used by bad actors.

Nuclear weapons remain, perhaps, foremost in people’s minds as an existential threat. The report focuses on how lesser AI might alter the shaky nuclear equilibrium we’ve been living in since the Trinity Test gave birth to the nuclear age.

You might initially imagine there’s a risk that a cyberattack, enhanced by AI, could hack into nuclear missiles. There was an alarming moment in 2010 when the US Air Force “lost contact” with missiles briefly. But this is not a major concern, at least not yet. Although it may seem alarming that the US nuclear arsenal still operates on 40-year-old computers with floppy disks, it means that the control structure is “air-gapped.” A closed network, with no access to the internet, is much more difficult to hack.

Stephen Schwartz, an expert on nuclear policy, told me in an interview (40:00): “The system as currently employed and operating is relatively invulnerable to a cyberattack directly.” But he raised a far more chilling concern, one shared by the RAND report: “Keep in mind that the nuclear system depends on military communications…and those are vulnerable. To the extent that those could be attacked and manipulated, particularly during a crisis, we may have a problem.”

The one thing to keep in mind with the nuclear weapons command and control infrastructure is when it’s designed to be used. For mutually assured destruction—viewed as necessary for an effective deterrent—you need to be able to launch your retaliation within a matter of minutes. Otherwise, the thousands of nuclear missiles headed towards you could wipe out the chain of command in a decapitation strike, or destroy your ability to retaliate. You have moments to decide. There’s not a great deal of time to double-check.

Given how quickly decisions have to take place, there’s not a lot of time for humans to judge, react, and calculate. This is why, as soon as it was possible, computer early-warning systems have been used. As AI develops, “artificially intelligent advisers” will be a huge temptation for the military—algorithms that can assess the nuclear threat and automatically plan an optimal response in the minutes that are available. But this will bring with it new risks.

The computers that actually control the missiles are far less vulnerable to error or attack than the communications to and from humans involved in making decisions. The scariest Cold War moments have often come from similar misunderstandings. In 1983, Stanislav Petrov was monitoring the Soviet early warning system when he saw an alert: incoming missiles had been fired by the United States. Had Petrov followed correct military protocol, he would have raised the alarm. But Petrov thought it was unlikely that the US would only attack with a small number of missiles, and failed to do so, potentially averting nuclear war. This is just one incident: similar stories happened again and again and again.

We have been incredibly fortunate that all of these errors were spotted before a nuclear war began. But what if the miscommunication was more convincing? If, for example, deepfake technology was used to imitate the president ordering a nuclear strike? Such are the scenarios nuclear strategists have to ponder.

Misconceptions about what artificial intelligence can do can be just as dangerous as AI itself. If people believe their communications can be hacked—even if they’re perfectly secure—how can they trust the orders they’re receiving?

Similar concerns were raised by RAND about assured destruction: the report states, “Both Russia and China appear to believe that the United States is attempting to leverage AI to threaten the survivability of their strategic nuclear forces, stoking mutual distrust that could prove catastrophic in a crisis.” If smart algorithms can scan satellite imagery to determine the location of nuclear silos—or just analyze smartphone app data—might the side with better technology be at an advantage, disrupting the balance of power? What if one side believes the other will soon be able to reliably intercept nuclear missiles?

Others at the workshop were more sanguine about this prospect. They pointed out that adversarial examples—slight distortions to input data that are cleverly constructed to fool a machine-learning algorithm—could always be used to combat an algorithm that’s scanning for retaliatory forces.

But this raises a new concern: any “AI adviser” to the military on nuclear weapons would also be vulnerable to such attack. If your machine learning algorithm that scans the skies for nuclear launches can be fooled, it could feed humans in the command and control structure incorrect information. Human error may be the biggest risk, but trusting automated systems and algorithms too much could also prove catastrophic.

The adversarial nuclear relationship between the US and the USSR in the Cold War was defined by both sides trying to second-guess the strategy, intentions, and capability of the other side. Misconceptions about what the other side is trying to do, or what their technology was capable of, can be key to the geopolitical decisions that are made. As progress in artificial intelligence accelerates, confusion about what it makes possible could reignite these fears, leading to hair-trigger nuclear weapons, concern about an “AI gap,” and an arms race. Arms races often involve speed over safety, which is why many are concerned about races for a superintelligence or autonomous weapons.

At an accelerating rate, important societal functions are being carried out by technologies that only a few people understand. Traditional institutions feel the need to react to this acceleration, but can jump to dangerous conclusions. The new nuclear posture review suggests using nuclear weapons to respond to cyberattacks; but when “cyberattack” is a poorly-defined term, and the origins of these attacks can take a long time to trace, is this policy realistic?

It is clear that states will not want to divulge their military secrets. Indeed, a certain level of mystery about what can be achieved may well help deter attacks. But we would all benefit from broader understanding of what is and isn’t possible with artificial intelligence. Nuclear policy is just another area where the black-box nature of algorithms that few understand can act to destabilize a shaky equilibrium. Now more than ever, we need our experts to communicate with our leaders.

“We escaped the cold war without a nuclear holocaust by some combination of skill, luck, and divine intervention, and I suspect the latter in greatest proportion,” said General George Lee Butler of the US strategic air command.

Can we trust in luck and divine intervention for the next arms race?

Image Credit: maradon 333 /

29 May 16:34

What are the Least Essential Skills in the AI Future?

Around the world, the workforce is gearing up for a future of robots and artificial intelligence.
29 May 13:55

We need to talk about AI! A new short-film by Futurist Gerd Leonhard: the essential stuff you need to know about artificial intelligence

by Gerd Leonhard

Here is my latest short film (the others are here) outlining my views on my #1 speaking topic: humans versus/with machines, artificial intelligence and the future of humanity in a world where machines can hear, see, speak, learn and ‘think’.

On the one hand, artificial intelligence (AI) clearly has the capacity to improve our lives in pretty much every aspect, from energy to medical to smart cities; on the other end it could fundamentally change who we are as humans, and what we think of as ‘human’. It could be a great destroyer of jobs but it could also free as from unsatisfying routines (read more about this in my new book, Technology vs Humanity, now available in English, German, Spanish and Portuguese)

I think it will all come down to what I call DIGITAL ETHICS i.e. how do we use technology to our collective human benefit (i.e. embrace it but don’t become it), and how do we deal with the externalities caused by exponential technological change. Technology will have almost unlimited power in less than 20 years, at which point the key question will be WHY and WHO, not if. Do we need a global digital ethics counsel on AI, and if so, how would we realize it?

Download the MP4 file here. Re-use and even editing of this film is permitted and subject to creative commons attribution non-commercial license (like all my materials).

A big THANK-YOU to my fabulous art director and producer Jean Francois Cardella, who also heads up my film production company, TFA Studio. Thanks also to Studio Chamberlin in Sofia Antipolis (other credits are listed at the end of the film)

Go here for my latest short films on the IoT and the ‘conversations with Gerd’



New teaser video:)


29 May 13:30

Mini Airports: Coming to a city near you

by FuturistSpeaker

As a futurist, I often get questions about flying cars. Well, the bad news is that we will never actually get to the flying car era that many have imagined, but flying drone taxis are similar and will prove to be far better. And the best part is they’re right around the corner.

When flying drones started entering our consciousness a few years ago, a number of drone pioneers focused their attention on vehicles big enough to transport people.

Today, following the maiden voyage of the first Volocopter drone taxi flight September 2017 in Dubai, several companies have announced their intentions to compete in the soon-to-emerge drone taxi industry.

No one disagrees with the vast number of problems that will need to be solved before it becomes a staple of our transportation mix, yet the overwhelming allure of this prospect has attracted a growing number of our best and brightest seeking to make a name for themselves in an industry where the sky is literally the limit.

In just a few years air taxis will be common in most major cities and along with them will come a new kind of infrastructure – mini airports.

During the first stage of development, planners and entrepreneurs will carve out first-generation landing pads around cities. These will most likely be small sections of existing parking lots.

As traffic grows, and the number of landing and departures grows from tens to hundreds a day, single landing pads will grow into multiple pads with waiting areas.

Over time, crude landing areas will evolve into sophisticated terminals for managing passengers as well as the street-level and air traffic surrounding each of these mini airports.

The speed of this evolution will largely depend on pricing. With private planes still costing many times the cost of a first class ticket, it’s never broken into mainstream consciousness. If flying drones can somehow be lowered to 2-3 times an Uber drive across town, it will grow quickly.

Will mini airports first appear on rooftops or in parking lots?

Launching the industry

Creating an entirely new industry like this requires a special breed of risk-taking entrepreneurs that know how to simultaneously raise money, design equipment, hire talent, deal with IP and legal matters, balance PR and publicity stunts, and tiptoe through a minefield of ten thousand decision points, where one wrong move could permanently torpedo their business.

Leading the charge are eight companies that include VolocopterBoeing-AuroraAirbus VahanaeHangKitty HawkLiliumUrban Aeronautics, and Joby.

Uber is also talking about being in the air taxi business, but they will not be developing their own equipment.

Even though Volocopter got tons of publicity in September 2017, the first one to actually start offering commercial flights was eHang who started offering a limited number of passenger flights starting in February 2018 with their 62 mph eight-rotor drone. Even though their ingenious design already comes with some level of autonomy and remote control flying ability, it still lacks many of the safety features like parachutes and airbags that will likely be required in the future.

Offering a bit more speed, the German startup Lilium has constructed an EVTOL jet that flies at 180 miles per hour. It’s 36 electric “jet” (ducted fan) engines allow triple redundant power system design, and are particularly quiet compared to traditional rotors. They are also claiming an impressive one-hour flight range, capable of traversing even the most sprawling metro area.

Pricing and noise will be the two key issues surrounding the air taxi industry

Dispelling the front-of-my-house landing argument

Logically, most passengers would prefer to have a drone that can pick them up in front of their home or business, but there are several reasons why this level of convenience will be a far later development.

Any drone large enough to haul people will be noisy and require routine refueling, battery charging-changing, and maintenance. This will mean that landing-takeoff locations have supporting ground crew to manage both the passengers and the equipment.

Since cities are very wary of any situation where potential fatalities could take place, a number of safety measures will need to be put into place. These will include fire and security procedures as well as having paramedics close by to deal with any emergencies.

Landing areas will need to be well planned, free of such things as trees, tall poles, power lines, animals, and children. Severe weather conditions such as high winds, hail, rain, and snow will force the closure of these mini airports until the situation improves.

To be sure, cities will want to add additional mini airports as demand grows and having multiple suburban locations will make them far more convenient. The big unknown will be the number of privately owned commuter drones and the need for private hangar space.

It is likely that one or more of these companies will design fly-drive drones capable of picking up a passenger and driving them to the nearest mini airport and flying them to their final destination. In this situation, we will likely see more privately owned vehicles.

Fly-drive air taxis are already in development

Problems to overcome

As with most breakthrough technologies, this one comes with a rich problem set that will have to be wrestled to the ground. Here are a few of the issues, but by no mean is this a complete list:

1.) Noise – Electric drones will solve some of the engine noise problems, but the whirling blades still create enough sound to generate neighborhood complaints.

2.) Safety – Operating without pilots, these drones will have to incorporate a number of rapid compensation algorithms to literally correct problems on the fly. Will we still have a need for parachutes and airbags or can overall reliability be boosted to the point of making them unnecessary?

3.) Trust factor – Our relationship with machines inevitably starts with developing a level of comfort around safety and security. For many of us, our trust of flying drone taxis will stem from hearing our family and friends tell us about their experience.

4.) Autonomy – Flying a drone is far too complicated for the average person on the street, so air taxis have to become fully automated and mind-numbingly simple.

5.) Range, speed, and power – The first goal will be to design vehicles that can accommodate 90% of passenger needs. Convenience is the key, so price, range, and speed are all pieces of the complex equation for developing a minimum viable service offering.

6.) Visual aesthetics – Tiny electric drones become invisible even at a short distance. But noisy, banner-pulling, exhaust-spewing, and disturbingly snoopy drones will force a number of laws to be written for governing the use of drones.

7.) Wi-Fi everywhere – All autonomous vehicles, both cars and drones, need to talk to each other. Rapidly changing road and air conditions are critical variables. For this to happen, we will need a pervasive, reliable signaling system, with minimal latency, devoid of shadows and dropped signals.

8.) Devious people – While most people will find the drone era refreshingly easy and convenient, there are always a sinister few who will find ways to use them for nefarious purposes.

How much will mini airports add to the cost of an air taxi flight?

Final Thoughts

Interestingly enough, the chief competition for drone taxis will be driverless technology. It’ll be a race to see which one develops fastest.

The driverless world will take 2-3 decades to unfold as the combined driver-driverless transition period will be rather messy. But each year of progress will step us closer to an increasingly fluid transportation system.

During this time, the air taxi industry will improve both in speed, range, and sophistication.

Since both require the creation of entirely new systems, we’ll first have to develop a regulatory environment to insure we have safe and reliable systems.

However, every regulation has both a compliance cost as well as operational cost associated with it. But a totally unregulated environment, where failures are unpredictable, can also be expensive.

This is yet another area that city’s are woefully unprepared for. They will need to come up the learning curve quickly.

I, for one, can’t wait for my first air taxi ride. That will likely happen within the next two years.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions Transforming Your Future

29 May 13:11

Embraer X unveils electric vertical take-off and landing concept

by Ryan Ghee

The following article was published by Future Travel Experience

Embraer X, an arm of Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, introduced the disruptive air transportation concept at the Uber Elevate event in California.

Embraer X’s eVTOL concept is an aircraft that could serve passengers in an urban environment.

Embraer X, an arm of Embraer dedicated to developing disruptive businesses, has unveiled its first electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft concept. The unveiling was made during Uber Elevate 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

Embraer X is engaged in several projects, including the development of eVTOL concepts through a cooperation with Uber and other companies to explore business opportunities within the Uber Elevate ecosystem.

The eVTOL concept is an aircraft that could serve passengers in an urban environment. Embraer X says it is the outcome of extensive interaction with potential urban air travellers about their desired experience, combined with the expertise of Embraer’s teams and the collaboration with various companies and institutions. 

“We have excelled in our near-50-year journey by introducing innovations into the aviation industry and delivering true value to customers,” said Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva, President and CEO of Embraer. “We are relentless in our quest for constant growth and through Embraer X we will drive disruptive innovation and accelerate the creation of new businesses with the potential for exponential growth. Urban mobility is ripe for transformation and we are committed to having a major role in this key market.”

Antonio Campello, President & CEO of Embraer X, added: “We are developing solutions to bring on-demand air transportation to urban areas to improve quality of life for millions of people. Our collaboration with key stakeholders will accelerate the arrival of this new ecosystem. This is one example of how Embraer X is committed to exploring a range of disruptive products and services that could revolutionise the business of air transportation.”

Earlier this year, FTE reported on how a raft of companies, ranging from Airbus and Uber to Hyperloop and Boom Supersonic, are embracing innovation to disrupt the air transport industry

Article originally published here:
Embraer X unveils electric vertical take-off and landing concept

29 May 13:01

FTE Europe & Ancillary 2018 Exhibition Preview – from AI and IFEC to e-commerce and e-tags

by Ryan Ghee

The following article was published by Future Travel Experience

Find out what each of the exhibitors will be showcasing at the co-located FTE Europe & FTE Ancillary shows in Dublin, 6-8 June 2018 – Europe’s leading airline/airport technology show.

At the co-located Future Travel Experience Europe and Ancillary shows, which will take place in Dublin from 6-8 June 2018, a selection of the air transport industry’s most forward-thinking vendors will showcase their latest products, services and concepts. Here’s a preview of what you can expect to find in the exhibition:


15below specialises in personalised passenger communications for the travel industry. Using its messaging platform, the company gives airlines, rail and travel companies the technology and the know-how to stay connected with passengers at every stage of their journey – from booking to arrival and beyond. Whether it’s managing unscheduled disruptions or sending personalised booking confirmations, mobile boarding passes or flight status updates, 15Below provides the systems and workflows to send tailored, real-time notifications to millions of travellers. To find out more about how SWISS, JetBlue, Ryanair and 40+ other customers use its system, or what 15Below could do for you, visit their stand in Dublin.

3D SeatMapVR

Discover 3D SeatMapVR, the future of airline seat maps visualisation. This product, winner of the Crystal Cabin Award 2018 in the Visionary Concepts category, provides a 3D 360º immersive view from the seat selected during the booking process, so that customers can understand the details of the seat: measurement, materials, A/V equipment, placement, etc. 3D SeatMapVR increases sales of special seats, premium seats and upgrades, and reduces passenger complaints, improving satisfaction ratios. This product has already been procured by Emirates Airline. Visit 3D SeatMapVR if you want to see a demo and get more details about how it works.


The award-winning AirFi Box is a market-leading portable wireless IFE platform with over 55 airlines and 650+ aircraft flying AirFi every day. AirFi is a proven, fast and cost-effective way to introduce a great new PaxEx and create new ancillary revenues streams. The AirFi Box integrates easily into existing airline logistics and is suitable for any flight length and every aircraft type – requiring no certification or aircraft downtime. Connected Crew is AirFi’s retail EPOS solution, empowering crew to enrich the PaxEx. Multiple features are integrated into a single tablet app, enabling crew to increase onboard sales, create a paperless cabin and improve on-board service levels.


Airfree’s innovative SaaS technology allows airlines to provide a seamless in-flight e/m-commerce experience. Its mission: to digitally connect travellers to duty free retailers and travel-related service providers worldwide, allowing them to translate flight time into incremental sales. By offering an independent omni-channel marketplace model in the air travel industry, airfree unleashes the opportunity for value creation for each stakeholder in the flying experience.

Airport Lounge Development

Airport Lounge Development, a part of the Collinson Group, is an expert lounge solution provider for airports and airlines. Airport Lounge Development can help to increase revenue and efficiencies, add lounges to your network for your premium customers or help to renovate an existing lounge or utilise an empty space. With preferred access to the Priority Pass network of frequent flyers, Airport Lounge Development is uniquely placed to deliver immediate and substantial guest volumes to lounges globally. With 18 lounges in its current network across the US and the UK and a significant portfolio of airline partners, Airport Lounge Development is positioned to be the preferred lounge partner of airlines and airports globally.

Register to attend – FREE for airlines, discounted for airports


BAGTAG is the traditional thermal paper baggage label re-invented. It is an electronic bag tag solution that allows passengers to beat the queue at the airport and save precious time. With BAGTAG passengers can check in their bags from anywhere and drop them off at the airport in a matter of seconds. This will greatly enhance passenger experience and operational efficiency. BAGTAG is currently live with Lufthansa and can also be used by passengers of SWISS and Austrian. 

Comtrade Digital Services

Comtrade Digital Services will showcase Adnexa – a new platform that maximises advertising ancillary revenue. Adnexa offers a transparent bidding mechanism where the advertiser can select its passenger segments and choose routes; these are then matched with anonymised passenger data provided by the airline. Once the advert is approved and the bid submission successful, the process is fully automated. It makes use of all potential channels – booking portals, boarding passes, in-flight entertainment etc. – to maximise the desired reach.


Conichiwa is a proximity-software provider enabling a seamless customer journey. Personalise and empower the passenger experience in real-time by supercharging your app with its proximity software development kits. Recognise, communicate and engage with passengers and crew pre-flight, on-board and post-flight.


Cylo has created a dynamic and boundless multimedia experience that reaches passengers at every point of their journey. Its entertainment solution for companies in the travel and holiday sector allows you to add value by making digital content available to your consumers on any device, anywhere. Cylo offers fully offline, in-flight entertainment for on-demand content selection, purchase and enjoyment whilst in transit, as well as entertainment packages as an add-on to the booking process. There are endless ways content can be made available, including in lounges and waiting areas, or offered as a reward through loyalty schemes.



Destygo has developed a platform and Artificial Intelligence technology to easily create Chatbots and Voicebots for travel and mobility companies. These Chatbots can answer questions 24/7, and in the messaging applications travellers use routinely (Facebook Messenger, SMS, Skype, etc.). Destygo develops specific use-cases for its customers according to the business objectives they want their Chatbot to accomplish: informational, transactional, inspirational or even service-oriented. To date, many leaders in the industry trust Destygo including Paris Airports, Carlson Wagonlit, Iberia and many others.

Register to attend – FREE for airlines, discounted for airports


Passengers today are looking for easy and affordable travel options. This makes airports and airlines choose technological solutions that appeal to that wish and bring lower operational costs and improved passenger experience. Only six years ago eezeetags started with the development for one self-service bag drop point at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. Today the world’s largest bag-drop installations like Dublin Airport and Gatwick Airport make use of eezeetags, serving both legacy and low-cost airlines. There are two very convenient ways to discover yourself how easy it is to tag a bag with eezeetags: visit the eezeetags booth or on your Dublin outbound flight drop a bag at one of the 200 self-service bag drop units placed around the airport and see eezeetags’ performance in a live environment.

Europ Assistance


Founded in 1963, Europ Assistance supports over 300 million customers in 208 countries thanks to its network of 750,000 approved providers and 37 assistance centres. Its mission is to bring people from distress to relief – anytime, anywhere. Europ Assistance provides roadside assistance, travel insurance and assistance, personal assistance such as senior care, digital identity protection, telemedicine and conciergerie. The vision of its 7,530 employees is to be the most reliable care company in the world. Europ Assistance is part of the Generali Group, one of the world’s leading insurers.



EXLRT is a global content and language marketing technology agency specialising in travel, retail, and hospitality. The company partners with multi-national enterprises to enhance their digital marketing and customer experience capabilities through a combination of strategy, technology, and operations services. EXLRT helps its clients unlock the value in their content and transform it into personalised local experiences their customers love. For over 20 years, EXLRT has delivered custom digital experiences and the CMS, DAM, and translation management systems that enable them for Fortune 2000 enterprises, including major airlines KLM, Turkish Airlines and Emirates.


The EXRUPTIVE Trolley Security Scanner combines an innovative X-ray technology with a never before seen method that disrupts the entire way of thinking airport security scanning. A scannable trolley allows passengers to prepare themselves before reaching security and allows them to keep their belongings within their hand luggage. All this combined creates a stress-free procedure for the passenger and increases the security throughput to 450+/hour. The trolley can be provided with an integrated intelligent tablet, which provides the user with an array of features such as pushing information about flight and gate, boarding time, wayfinding and more. is a leading marketplace for Fast Track, Meet & Greet, Meet and Assist, and CIP/VIP services at airports globally. It unlocks the potential for service providers and airports to grow and enhance their revenue and passenger experience via digital transformation. Its platform provides access to B2C, B2B and B2B2C channels (including APIs to airlines’ booking engines). The platform also provides the back-end system required for fulfilment, reporting, invoicing, and integration with eGates (optional). And best of all, delivery is immediate, and no capex investment is required.

Register to attend – FREE for airlines, discounted for airports

Flying Plaza (Minime-Labs)

Minime-Labs supplies technologies for the airline industry that are: low cost; quick to deploy; no downtime for the aircraft; and no loss of earnings for the airline. The Flying Plaza solution enables the delivery of Entertainment, Shopping, Programmatic Advertising and Offline Purchase Capability. The fully certified Flying Plaza solution is the ideal candidate, reaching the traveller from the moment they book, to beyond the time the reach their destination, continuing to engage long after the flight is over.


Fusion brings together cutting-edge data science, an all-encompassing ancillary product suite, and ongoing merchandising test strategies to deliver targeted, relevant e-commerce product offers. By delivering a personal customer experience, Fusion converts shoppers into buyers faster, better, more accurately, and more profitably. Fusion works with leading brands across more than 40 countries in the travel, healthcare, auto, entertainment, and insurance industries.



Grab, the airport e-commerce platform, is transforming airport commerce by breaking down the barriers of time and location. Time-pressed travellers, crew and airport employees can discover stores, order and avoid the line with express pick up. Visit the exhibition in Dublin to learn about Grab’s turn-key mobile ordering platform which is available to airline and airport partners to embed within their existing digital channels. Learn about integrations with wayfinding and indoor location services, loyalty programmes, automation of irregular operations restaurant vouchers and beyond.


Built on the rails of the best on-the-ground e-commerce technologies, the Guestlogix airline commerce platform delivers more opportunities for ancillary revenues than any other alternative, while improving the typical passenger experience of today.


Hepstar maximises travel merchant and insurer revenues from travel insurance sales through personalised and targeted customer engagement using its advanced e-merchandising technology. Hepstar technology is driven by empirical data collected from the travel booking process, including contextual and personal information of customers, as well as customer behaviour in relation to products, which data feeds its self-learning recommendation engine to enable ongoing optimisation of sales revenue. In an industry synonymous with one-size-fits-all travel insurance offers and low conversion, Hepstar promises active and incremental increase in travel insurance revenue through dynamic product merchandising.

Register to attend – FREE for airlines, discounted for airports

iBoardings / International Boarding Solutions

International Boarding Solutions will be showcasing its electronic sizer that analyses weight and size in relation to the carrier’s cabin baggage policies (no matter how complicated these policies are), introducing innovation in an outdated process, treating all the passengers in the same way, improving the passenger experience, improving the airport and airline operations and helping to collect the carry-on baggage fees.


IDeaS – A SAS Company, is a leading provider of pricing and yield management software, services and consulting. Working with car park organisations around the world to identify new opportunities to enhance revenue, outperform competitors and improve business performance, IDeaS takes you to the next level with demand based dynamic pricing. Using advanced analytics to deliver self-learning forecasts and optimal pricing strategies, IDeaS automated revenue management solution leads the way.


Immfly is 100% focused on providing airlines with the opportunity to digitally revolutionise passengers’ in-flight experience, by designing, developing and managing the onboard digital services platform, always adapted to each airline’s needs and specifications. It is currently one of the most successful companies in Europe for narrow-body IFE and digital onboard services and, at the same time, one of the fastest growing companies in the sector worldwide, growing more than 100% per year. Immfly’s product is tailored, content-rich and connectivity ready, designed with clear marketing and revenue optimisation objectives.

IMM International

IMM International provides a monetisation solution for your inflight media (IFEC). AirSAS advertising server: works offline during the flight; can manage any ad format including banners, video, forms and native advertising; targets specific audience segments; provides dedicated access with a specific real time reporting; easy campaign set-up, changes and optimisation; a partnership with Destination Guides by PXCom. All with no fixed cost.

Inflight Dublin

Inflight Dublin is a global provider of IFE content and wireless solutions. With its headquarters in Dublin, Ireland, the company has been providing engaging and quality IFE content to its clients for over 30 years. Since 2016, Inflight Dublin has diversified into the wireless IFE space. It is an independent, professional and debt-free organisation, which enables it to make long-term investments in its clients’ services.

Register to attend – FREE for airlines, discounted for airports


Inflyter accompanies air travellers by bringing together, on a single platform, the complete travel environment. All flight-related information, transportation and airport services, duty-free retail offers and also inMiles, a brand-new loyalty programme, which are essential to introduce passengers into a seamless flying experience, regardless the airline flown or the airport visited. These services are available via a mobile application where Inflyter innovates by offering a complete multi-modal and disruptive solution entirely dedicated to improving passenger experience and making the travel path simplified. Inflyter is a platform geared towards air passengers, as well as various industry operators. It offers a solution that creates additional turnover for retailers and boosts ancillary revenue for airports and airlines, making it an indispensable tool for improving and boosting the profitability of pre-flight services.

Interactive Mobility


Interactive Mobility develops entertainment streaming solutions for the travel industry with the mission to make each passenger experience unique. Thanks to its solutions, passengers can watch a wide range of contents (movies, TV Shows, newspapers, music, etc.) on their mobile devices while on-the-move.

In The Pocket


As a digital product studio, In The Pocket develops digital products that make people happy and businesses grow. From strategy to product launch and beyond, In The Pocket works in strategic partnerships with companies that take their digital future seriously. Its clients include: Samsonite, Lufthansa Technik, Brussels Airport and TUI. The products the company builds include: mobile apps; APIs & cloud native apps; AR & VR apps; web apps & CMS; chatbots & conversational interfaces; machine learning models.


OpenJaw logo

OpenJaw transforms travel companies into travel retailers. The OpenJaw Platform, t-Retail, is the most complete travel retailing platform available. And, t-Retail is pretty powerful stuff. It gives travel companies everything they need to retail all travel products to increase revenue and enable redemption. And, its customers, which include some of world’s greatest travel brands, seem to agree.

Panasonic Avionics


For over 35 years, Panasonic Avionics has focused on two objectives – strengthening the connection between airlines and their passengers and enabling them to operate more efficiently. In order to do that, Panasonic designs, builds, implements and maintains inflight entertainment and connectivity solutions tailored to each airline’s specific business needs. The key enabler is the industry’s most capable and award winning IFEC platform, empowered by an unparalleled ecosystem of partnerships, applications, tools, and service infrastructure. Panasonic’s solutions allow airlines to increase the value of their brand, foster passenger loyalty, generate ancillary revenue, and reduce their operating cost.

Register to attend – FREE for airlines, discounted for airports

Planitas Airline Systems

Planitas Airline Systems is showcasing its latest technology, SeatMAX. A modern web application, SeatMAX empowers airline management to deploy dynamic ancillary seat pricing strategies across all routes and classes. This technology will provide a measurable rate of return by increasing yield within the cabin. With a proven track record, the SeatMAX application now has the capability to increase seat ancillary sales by a minimum of 10%. PasRM (Revenue Management) and ABIS (Airline Business Intelligence System) will also be available for display. Talk to the Planitas team and discover how some of the best run airlines in the world harness the power of their own data.


Active noise cancelling earplugs. QuietOn earplugs combine active noise cancellation and acoustic noise attenuation to bring you a bubble of quietude in the noisy world. The earplugs are designed especially for travel, with a small and easy to carry feature, making it a perfect companion for flying, and battery life of up to 50 hours. Active noise cancelling technology significantly reduces the low-frequency sounds. With a noise reduction level up to 40dB, QuietOn earplugs make the airplane cabin a quiet environment where you can sleep and work.


RebelRoam makes onboard Wi-Fi networks faster and less expensive. The company can show you how cloud-based Wi-Fi network optimisation technology called RebelRocket filters, shapes and accelerates data traffic. RebelRocket is a game changer in the onboard Wi-Fi market because it is completely equipment and network agnostic and can be implemented remotely within minutes worldwide. All it takes is a simple configuration change on the onboard equipment’s DNS settings to redirect traffic to the RebelRocket Cloud where the optimisation happens. Today RebelRoam already works with transportation companies all over Europe serving 2 million connected passengers monthly.


Regula, a leading developer and producer of expert forensic devices and software for automatic processing and authenticating identity documents, has launched the Document Reader software development kit (SDK). The solution can read and validate more than 6,300 types of identity documents, including passports, IDs and visas, on both iOS and Android mobile platforms. The Document Reader SDK for mobile applications is used by law-enforcement agencies, flight booking and online check-in systems, air ticket sales agencies, airline security companies and other organisations dealing with identity documents.


The first operator of private and last minute deals on products and services dedicated to passengers connected to the internet via inflight Wi-Fi. A marketplace allowing brands and services to address targeted offers to passengers that are currently onboard. Thanks to its innovative Shoppertainment features, SKYdeals makes inflight e-commerce really entertaining. SKYdeals entertains passengers, all flight long, with different animations: Fly Over: great deals on products and services related to the zone currently flown and only available during that time; Grouped Sales: the more passengers buy the offer, the greatest the deal; and Flash Sales: fantastic offers only available for a very limited time during the flight.

Register to attend – FREE for airlines, discounted for airports


Sirena-Travel operates a GDS of the same name. It processes more than 55 million passenger segments annually. Since 2013 Sirena-Travel has been recognised by IATA as a value member of the Strategic Partnerships Program and acknowledged as an NDC capable provider (Level 2). Sirena-Travel developed Leonardo PSS, holding the key position in the product portfolio of the company. It provides hosting services to nearly 60 airlines and its e-commerce solution serves over 440 internet stores of hundreds of airlines and travel agencies. Astra DCS developed by Sirena-Travel, installed in more than 260 airports around the world, serves over 80 airlines monthly.


SITA is the communications and IT solution provider that transforms air travel through technology for airlines, at airports and on aircraft. The company’s portfolio covers everything from managed global communications and infrastructure services, to eAircraft, passenger management, baggage, self-service, airport and border management solutions.


Travel time prediction service, SMARTRA, for passengers and baggage enables: (1) travellers to avoid a crowded period, reduce wait time, relieve their stress, purchase economical goods timely and meet someone just in time; (2) airlines to dispatch more workers during the crowded period, reduce a long queue and level a workload; (3) retailers to increase sales; and (4) shuttle drivers to meet them just in time. Prediction is computed based on a probability density function and is more accurate than real time data and historical data. SMARTRA can use RFID tags, barcode readers, beacons, e-gates, biometric sensors, etc. as checkpoints.


What’s the key to happier passengers? Data. Stop by the TARGIT booth in Dublin and learn how to make sense of the data quagmire in your airport. Take a peek at Decision Suite 2018, the latest in business intelligence and analysis. Learn how TARGIT BI can help put an end to the information overload that plagues the airport industry. And see how TARGIT helped transform Dublin Airport into a world-class operation.

TouchStar OnBoard Retail

TouchStar OnBoard Retail’s pioneering onboard retail solution “NovoStar” provides the airline industry with a solution that facilitates the sale of inflight duty-free and ancillary products. In an industry where the key differentiator is service, TouchStar has the technology that makes onboard selling a fast, easy and personalised experience. Streamlining inflight operations whatever the connectivity, the availability of all major payment options allows NovoStar to maximise revenue and enhance the payment experience. Full integration with the NovoStar back office offers greater management control of all aspects of pre- and post-flight sales.

Register to attend – FREE for airlines, discounted for airports


Travelaer builds products for the travel industry designed to improve the customer experience, implementing a ‘Customer First’ approach to designing and building B2B2C software. Founded in 2013, Travelaer’s customers include Air France, Air Iceland, Europcar, Icelandair, Sata, Azores Airlines, Finnair, El Al Israeli Airlines and Aeroport Nice Cote D’Azur. Current Travelaer products include Travel Paas, an airline online booking and trip management platform, and Comversational, an enterprise-level automated messaging platform (chatbot) that enables travel companies to automate commerce and customer service via Facebook Messenger and other conversational channels.


TripCreator is an award-winning white-label trip planning solution for airlines, travel agencies, and OTAs. The solution enables online users and in-house sales people to create and suggest full and final itineraries in minutes. This includes locating and arranging accommodation, transportation, tours and activities and points of interests. TripCreator offers: a global trip planning solution; increased ancillary revenue; increased customer engagement; an improved digital customer experience; customer behaviour analytics; increased online and in-house sales; reduced cost via increased efficiency with assisted planning; sell own inventory resulting in higher margins; and an easy-to-use tool for travel agencies’ resellers, e.g. external agents.


Volantio is a global leader in post-booking revenue and capacity optimisation software for airlines. Based in Atlanta, GA, Volantio partners with major airlines globally such as Qantas, Iberia, Alaska Airlines, Volaris, and others. Yana, Volantio’s flagship web-based platform, leverages machine learning algorithms to drive higher unit revenues and improved capacity utilisation after customers have booked their flights, while also improving overall customer experience. Airlines use the technology to proactively identify flexible passengers on target flights, make them offers to move to lower demand flights, and automatically re-book them once they accept. Passengers are notified, via mobile, days in advance of departure, minimising last-minute hassle and providing enough time to change plans accordingly.

The Yana platform also provides a significantly improved customer experience for passengers on the day of departure, when weather disruptions, aircraft swaps, oversell situations, or irregular operations may impact customers. Airlines as well can save significant resources, and decrease front-line stress, by automating these processes. Volantio has been backed by leading strategic and industry investors globally, including JetBlue Technology Ventures, International Airlines Group and Qantas Ventures.

View the full exhibition floor plan Register to attend – FREE for airlines, discounted for airports

Article originally published here:
FTE Europe & Ancillary 2018 Exhibition Preview – from AI and IFEC to e-commerce and e-tags

29 May 12:27

FAA to team with local, state, and tribal governments and companies to develop safe drone operations

Future drone war as portrayed in “Call of Duty Black Ops 2” (credit: Activision Publishing)

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced today (May 9, 2018) that 10 state, local, and tribal governments have been selected* as participants in the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Pilot Program.

The goal of the program: set up partnerships between the FAA and local, state and tribal governments. These will then partner with private sector participants to safely explore the further integration of drone operations.

“Data gathered from these pilot projects will form the basis of a new regulatory framework to safely integrate drones into our national airspace,” said Chao. Over the next two and a half years, the team will collect drone data involving night operations, flights over people and beyond the pilot’s line of sight, package delivery, detect-and-avoid technologies and the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft.

North Carolina has been selected to test medical delivery with Zipline’s drones, which have been
tested in more than 4000 flights in Rwanda, according to
MIT Technology Review

At least 200 companies were approved to partner in the program, including Airbus, Intel, Qualcomm, Boeing, Ford Motor Co., Uber Technologies Inc., and Fedex (but not Amazon).

“At Memphis International Airport, drones may soon be inspecting planes and delivering airplane parts for FedEx Corp.,” reports Bloomberg. “In Virginia, drones operated by Alphabet’s Project Wing will be used to deliver goods to various communities and then researchers will get feedback from local residents. The data can be used to help develop regulations allowing widespread and routine deliveries sometime in the future.”

The city of Reno, Nevada is partnered with Nevada-based Flirtey, a company that has experimented with delivering defibrillators by drone.

In less than a decade, the potential economic benefit of integrating [unmanned aircraft systems] in the nation’s airspace is estimated at $82 billion and could create 100,000 jobs,” the announcement said. “Fields that could see immediate opportunities from the program include commerce, photography, emergency management, public safety, precision agriculture and infrastructure inspections.”

Criminals and terrorists already see immediate opportunities

But could making drones more accessible and ubiquitous have unintended consequences?

Consider these news reports:

  • A small 2-foot-long quadcopter — a drone with four propellers — crashed onto the White House grounds on January 26, 2015. The event raises some troubling questions about the possibility that terrorists using armed drones could one day attack the White House or other tightly guarded U.S. government locations. — CNN
  • ISIS flew over 300 drone missions in one month during the battle for Mosul, said Peter Singer, a senior fellow and strategist at the New America Foundation, during a November 2017 presentation. About one-third of those flights were armed strike missions. — C4ISRNET
  • ISIS released a propaganda video in 2017 showing them (allegedly) dropping a bomb on a Syrian army ammunition depot. — Vocativ
  • Footage obtained by the BBC shows a drone delivering drugs and mobile phones to London prisoners in April 2016. — BBC

“Last month the FAA said reports of drone-safety incidents, including flying improperly or getting too close to other aircraft, now average about 250 a month, up more than 50 percent from a year earlier,” according to a Nov. 2017 article by Bloomberg. “The reports include near-collisions described by pilots on airliners, law-enforcement helicopters or aerial tankers fighting wildfires.”

Worse, last winter, a criminal gang used a drone swarm to obstruct an FBI hostage raid, Defense One reported on May 3, 2018. The gang buzzed the hostage rescue team and fed video to the group’s other members via YouTube, according to Joe Mazel, the head of the FBI’s operational technology law unit.

“Some criminal organizations have begun to use drones as part of witness intimidation schemes: they continuously surveil police departments and precincts in order to see ‘who is going in and out of the facility and who might be co-operating with police,’ he revealed. … Drones are also playing a greater role in robberies and the like,” the article points out. “Beyond the well-documented incidence of house break-ins, criminal crews are using them to observe bigger target facilities, spot security gaps, and determine patterns of life: where the security guards go and when.

“In Australia, criminal groups have begun have used drones as part of elaborate smuggling schemes,” Mazel said. And Andrew Scharnweber, associate chief of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “described how criminal networks were using drones to watch Border Patrol officers, identify their gaps in coverage, and exploit them. Cartels are able to move small amounts of high-value narcotics across the border via drones with ‘little or no fear of arrest,’ he said.”

Congressional bill H.R. 4: FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 attempts to address these problems by making it illegal to “weaponize” consumer drones and would require drones that fly beyond their operators’ line of sight to broadcast an identity code, allowing law enforcement to track and connect them to a real person, the article noted.

How terrorists could use AI-enhanced autonomous drones

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a coalition of AI researchers and advocacy organizations, released this fictional video to depict a disturbing future in which lethal autonomous weapons have become cheap and ubiquitous worldwide.

But the next generation of drones might use AI-enabled swarming to become even more powerful and deadlier, in addition to self-driving vehicles for their next car bombs or assassinations, Defense One warned in another article on May 3, 2018.

“Max Tegmark’s book Life 3.0 notes the concern of UC Berkeley computer scientist Stuart Russell, who worries that the biggest winners from an AI arms race would be ‘small rogue states and non-state actors such as terrorists’ who can access these weapons through the black market,” the article notes.

“Tegmark writes that they are ‘mass-produced, small AI-powered killer drones are likely to cost little more than a smartphone.’ Would-be assassins could simply ‘upload their target’s photo and address into the killer drone: it can then fly to the destination, identify and eliminate the person, and self-destruct to ensure that nobody knows who was responsible.’”

* The 10 selectees are:

  • Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Durant, OK
  • City of San Diego, CA
  • Virginia Tech – Center for Innovative Technology, Herndon, VA
  • Kansas Department of Transportation, Topeka, KS
  • Lee County Mosquito Control District, Ft. Myers, FL
  • Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, Memphis, TN
  • North Carolina Department of Transportation, Raleigh, NC
  • North Dakota Department of Transportation, Bismarck, ND
  • City of Reno, NV
  • University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK
14 May 12:59

By 2040, artificial intelligence could upend nuclear stability

San Francisco CA (SPX) Apr 25, 2018
A new RAND Corporation paper finds that artificial intelligence has the potential to upend the foundations of nuclear deterrence by the year 2040. While AI-controlled doomsday machines are considered unlikely, the hazards of artificial intelligence for nuclear security lie instead in its potential to encourage humans to take potentially apocalyptic risks, according to the paper. Duri
14 May 12:57

Artificial intelligence helps soldiers learn many times faster in combat

New technology allows US soldiers to learn 13 times faster than conventional methods and researchers said this may help save lives.
14 May 12:32

Artificial intelligence promises bright future for airlines and passengers - CTV News

CTV News

Artificial intelligence promises bright future for airlines and passengers
CTV News
MONTREAL -- Canada's two largest airlines say artificial intelligence can be a game-changer for aviation by helping to boost revenues, pare costs and provide passengers with a more personalized travel experience. Air Canada and WestJet are joining ...

and more »
14 May 12:27

Canadian airlines get on board with artificial intelligence quest - Toronto Star

Toronto Star

Canadian airlines get on board with artificial intelligence quest
Toronto Star
MONTREAL—Canada's two largest airlines say artificial intelligence can be a game-changer for aviation by helping to boost revenues, pare costs and provide passengers with a more personalized travel experience. Air Canada and WestJet are joining ...

and more »
14 May 12:05

Great video on Artificial Intelligence, via WEF

by Gerd Leonhard

watch this!

14 May 11:49

Pilot study validates artificial intelligence to help predict school violence

A pilot study indicates that artificial intelligence may be useful in predicting which students are at higher risk of perpetrating school violence. The researchers found that machine learning -- the science of getting computers to learn over time without human intervention -- is as accurate as a team of child and adolescent psychiatrists, including a forensic psychiatrist, in determining risk for school violence.
14 May 11:04

5 Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Already Influencing Your Daily Life and You Don't Even Know It

by Michael McQueen
14 May 10:57

White House to Hold Artificial Intelligence Conference

The White House will hold a conference on artificial intelligence Thursday, aiming to show support for the advanced technologies amid nagging worries about their potential impacts.
14 May 10:57

Artificial intelligence needs to be socially responsible, says new policy report

The development of new artificial intelligence (AI) technology is often bias, and the resulting systems can be discriminatory, meaning more should be done by policymakers to ensure its development is democratic and socially responsible. This is according to a new policy report on the role of AI and robotics in society.
10 May 18:39

10 Promising AI Applications in Health Care

by Brian Kalis
Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

There’s a lot of excitement right now about how artificial intelligence (AI) is going to change health care. And many AI technologies are cropping up to help people streamline administrative and clinical health care processes. According to venture capital firm Rock Health, 121 health AI and machine learning companies raised $2.7 billion in 206 deals between 2011 and 2017.

The field of health AI is seemingly wide—covering wellness to diagnostics to operational technologies—but it is also narrow in that health AI applications typically perform just a single task. We investigated the value of 10 promising AI applications and found that they could create up to $150 billion in annual savings for U.S. health care by 2026.

We identified these specific AI applications based on how likely adoption was and what potential exists for annual savings. We found AI currently creates the most value in helping frontline clinicians be more productive and in making back-end processes more efficient—but not yet in making clinical decisions or improving clinical outcomes. Clinical applications are still rare.



Let’s take a look at a few examples of AI on the frontline of care. AI has demonstrated its aptitude for improving the efficiency of image analysis by quickly and accurately flagging specific anomalies for a radiologist’s review. In 2011, researchers from NYU Langone Health found that this type of automated analysis could find and match specific lung nodules (on chest CT images) between 62% to 97% faster than a panel of radiologists. Our findings suggest such AI-generated efficiencies in image analysis could create $3 billion in annual savings by giving radiologists more time to focus on reviews that require greater interpretation or judgement.

Another area is AI-assisted robotic surgery. In orthopedic surgery, a form of AI-assisted robotics can analyze data from pre-op medical records to physically guide the surgeon’s instrument in real-time during a procedure. It can also use data from actual surgical experiences to inform new surgical techniques. A study of 379 orthopedic patients across nine surgical sites found that an AI-assisted robotic technique created by Mazor Robotics resulted in a five-fold reduction in surgical complications compared to when surgeons operated alone. When applied properly to orthopedic surgery, our analysis found AI-assisted robotic surgery could also generate a 21% reduction in patients’ length of stay in the hospital following surgery, as a result of fewer complications and errors, and create $40 billion in annual savings.

AI techniques are also being applied to the costly problem of dosage errors—where our findings suggest AI could generate $16 billion in savings. In 2016, a ground breaking trial in California found that a mathematical formula developed with the help of AI had correctly determined the correct dose of immunosuppressant drugs to administer to organ patients. Determining the dose has traditionally depended on a combination of guidelines and educated guesswork—and dosing errors make up 37% of all preventable medical errors. While this type of AI technique is nascent, the example is powerful considering that the correct dose is critical to making sure a graft is not rejected after an organ transplant.

Using AI to aid clinical judgement or diagnosis still remains in its infancy, but some results are emerging to illustrate the possibility. In 2017, a group at Stanford University tested an AI algorithm against 21 dermatologists on its ability to identify skin cancers. The clinical findings, as reported by Nature last year, “achieve performance on par with all tested experts …demonstrating an artificial intelligence capable of classifying skin cancer with a level of competence comparable to dermatologists.” Our findings suggest AI could yield $5 billion in annual savings by doing a preliminary diagnosis before a patient enters the emergency department.

We’re also starting to see potential of AI-powered virtual nurse assistants in helping patients. For example, Sensely’s “Molly” is an AI-powered nurse avatar being used by UCSF and the UK’s NHS to interact with patients, ask them questions about their health, assess their symptoms, and direct them to the most effective care setting. Our findings estimate AI-powered nurse assistants could save $20 billion annually by saving 20% of the time nurses spend on patient maintenance tasks.

AI also holds promise for helping the health care industry manage costly back-office problems and inefficiencies. Activities that have nothing to do with patient care consume over half (51%) of a nurse’s workload and nearly a fifth (16%) of physician activities. AI-based technologies, such as voice-to-text transcription, can improve administrative workflows and eliminate time-consuming non-patient-care activities, such as writing chart notes, filling prescriptions, and ordering tests. We estimate that these applications could save the industry $18 billion annually.

For example, while Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center garnered attention for an AI-enabled cancer screen, its first foray into AI was more prosaic: using it to reduce hospital readmission rates and identify possible no-shows. Using machine learning, technologists at Beth Israel Medical Center developed an application to predict which patients are likely to be no shows or lapse on treatment so they can intervene ahead of time.

Errors and fraud are a similarly expensive problem for health care organizations and also for insurers. Fraud detection has traditionally relied on a combination of computerized (rules-based) and manual reviews of medical claims. It’s a time-consuming process that hinges on being able to quickly spot anomalies after the incident occurs in order to intervene. Health insurers are experimenting with AI-supported data mining, coupled with AI-based neural networks (which mimic the processes of the human brain, but much more quickly) to search Medicare claims for patterns associated with medical reimbursement fraud. We estimated that AI could create $17 billion in annual savings by improving the speed and accuracy of fraud detection in Medicare claims.

Beyond fraudulent activity, the litany of data breaches, such as WannaCry or Petya, over the past few years has made cybersecurity a major concern for health care organizations. Health care breaches are estimated to cost organizations $380 per patient record. Using AI to monitor and detect abnormal interactions with proprietary data could create $2 billion in annual savings by reducing health record breaches.

As AI technologies become more prevalent, health care organizations will have to invest in those that deliver the most value. Uses of AI for clinical judgement still remains in its infancy and will need time to fully take root in a meaningful way. But the AI applications that can deliver the most value today (AI-assisted surgery, virtual nurse, administrative workflow) should be prioritized and invested in, so health care providers and insurers are free to focus on better care.

10 May 18:36

The world's largest vacuum

Nasa's Space Power Facility helps scientists and film makers simulate space
09 May 11:24

Microsoft Charts Its Own Path on Artificial Intelligence

by Tom Simonite
Google and Facebook are building custom chips for AI. Microsoft is using Intel chips that can be reprogrammed for different uses.
20 Apr 13:21

How to Lose Your Best Employees

by Whitney Johnson
CSA Images/Getty Images

You want to be a great boss. You want your company to be a great place to work. But right now, at this very moment, one of your key employees might be about to walk out the door.

She has consistently brought her best game to work and has grown into a huge asset. But her learning has peaked, her growth has stalled, and she needs a new challenge to reinvigorate her.

As her boss, you don’t want anything to change. After all, she’s super-productive, her work is flawless, and she always delivers on time. You want to keep her right where she is.

That’s a great way to lose her forever.

This was my situation more than a decade ago. After eight years as an award-winning stock analyst at Merrill Lynch, I needed a new challenge. I’ve always liked mentoring and coaching people, so I approached a senior executive about moving to a management track. Rather than offering his support, he dismissed and discouraged me. His attitude was, We like you right where you are. I left within the year.

This kind of scenario plays out in companies every day. And the cost is enormous in terms of both time and money. But if I had stayed and disengaged, the cost may have been even higher. When people can no longer grow in their jobs, they mail it in — leading to huge gaps in productivity. According to Gallup, a lack of employee engagement “implies a stunning amount of wasted potential, given that business units in the top quartile of Gallup’s global employee engagement database are 17% more productive and 21% more profitable than those in the bottom quartile.”

And yet engagement is only symptomatic. When your employees (and maybe even you, as their manager) aren’t allowed to grow, they begin to feel that they don’t matter. They feel like a cog in a wheel, easily swapped out. If you aren’t invested in them, they won’t be invested in you, and even if they don’t walk out the door, they will mentally check out.

How do you overcome this conundrum? It starts with recognizing that every person in your company, including you, is on a learning curve. That learning curve means that every role has a shelf life. You start a new position at the low end of the learning curve, with challenges to overcome in the early days. Moving up the steep slope of growth, you acquire competence and confidence, continuing into a place of high contribution and eventually mastery at the top of the curve.

But what comes next as the potential for growth peters out? The learning curve flattens, a plateau is reached; a precipice of disengagement and declining performance is on the near horizon. I’d estimate that four years is about the maximum learning curve for most people in most positions; if, after that, you’re still doing the exact same thing, you’re probably starting to feel a little flat.

Take my own career: I moved to New York City with a freshly minted university degree in music. I was a pianist who especially loved jazz. But I was quickly dazzled by Wall Street which, in the late 1980s, was the place to work. I secured a position as a secretary in a financial firm and started night school to learn about investing.

A few years later, my boss helped me make the leap from support staff to investment banker. It was an unlikely, thrilling new opportunity that required his sponsorship and support. After a few years, I jumped again to become a stock analyst, and I scaled that curve to achieve an Institutional Investor ranking for several successive years.

When I began, I was excited to be a secretary on Wall Street. I was also excited to become an investment banker. And I loved being a stock analyst. Though I started in each of these positions at the low end of their respective learning curves, I was able to progress and achieve mastery in all of them.

Eventually, I became a little bored with each job and started looking around for a new challenge to jump to. Most of us follow similar patterns — our brains want to be learning, and they give us feel-good feedback when we are. When we aren’t, we don’t feel so good. The human brain is designed to learn, not just during our childhood school years but throughout our life spans. When we are learning, we experience higher levels of brain activity and many feel-good brain chemicals are produced. Managers would do well to remember that.

Because every organization is a collection of people on different learning curves. You build an A team by optimizing these individual curves with a mix of people: 15% of them at the low end of the curve, just starting to learn new skills; 70% in the sweet spot of engagement; and 15% at the high end of mastery. As you manage employees all along the learning curve, requiring them to jump to a new curve when they reach the top, you will have a company full of people who are engaged.

You and every person on your team is a learning machine. You want the challenge of not knowing how to do something, learning how to do it, mastering it, and then learning something new. Instead of letting the engines of your employees sit idle, crank them: Learn, leap, and repeat.