To grab the presentations from RIoT XII, download the PDF here.

Our recap of RIoT XII originally appeared on WRAL Techwire.

Autonomous is getting real. Fast.

In the last 30 days we’ve seen two major advancements in federal policy governing autonomous vehicles.

First, local company PrecisionHawk received Federal Aviation Administration approval to fly drones beyond the line of sight.

Second, the Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles, announced on the same day as “RIoT XII – Autonomous Vehicles”, stipulates that federal officials have oversight over the software governing and driving autonomous vehicles. Just as the Feds have governance over human drivers today, they plan to regulate and maintain guidance over the bits, bytes, ones and zeros that will be driving cars, trucks, and tractors. Not someday, but today.

When the feds move this quickly on emerging technologies, that’s worth two mentions.

1.If you have any doubt that this new wave of innovation is coming, marinate on the fact that the Feds are jumping on this. The institutions most likely to slow-roll new tech are being proactive, both with tech in the air and on the ground, to the best of their abilities.

2.Thank you, government, for being a part of the discussion while the tech is early. Kudos.


Showcasing a giant drone at RIoT eventDoubt the products, the companies, the buzzwords all you want, but don’t doubt the big picture. Self-driving vehicles, sensors in almost every item, and massive waves of data driven intelligence is a technology trend we cannot, and should not seek to, escape.

With this backdrop in mind, our latest RIoT event took place in Wake Forest on Tuesday, Sep. 20, speaking to the behind-the-scenes and visible manifestations of autonomous vehicles. Three hundred attendees piled into the Renaissance Centre in downtown Wake Forest, while imbibing craft brews and munching on taco truck tacos. Taco Tuesday, y’all.

Incredibly fun aside: Virginia Tech, Google, and Chipotle partnered for an FAA approved taco and burrito delivery service by drone. We’re approaching IoT and autonomous vehicles nirvana.

We were thrilled to have a full roster of demo stations on hand, including PrecisionHawk, Bridgera, STMicroelectronics, Arrow, ANSYS, IEEE, the Wireless Research Center, MiPayWay, Renasas, Olearis, and Santa’s Little Hackers.

The last two get special mention. Olearis stunned the audience with their BA-BAD, a Big Ass Bad Ass Drone. Our moniker, not theirs. This unmanned aerial vehicle excels at industrial applications like inspections of transmission power lines. It was easily the size of a pontoon boat.

Santa’s Little Hackers takes place on October 22nd. This volunteer event takes off-the-shelf electronic toys and converts them to create news forms of interaction, allowing kids with disabilities to enjoy them as well. Got spare time that weekend? They need your help.

Our speakers for the night kicked off with Tyler Collins, VP Airspace Services from PrecisionHawk. Concerned about drones crashing into objects and planes? They’ve solved for that. By connecting their drone hardware to numerous additional data sources and software, they’ve built the foundation to ensure aerial autonomy safety.

Sudhir Sharma from ANSYS spoke to the big picture of engineering for the Internet of Things. Connecting the physical world to the internet brings new electromagnetic interference challenges that are expensive to solve through trial-and-error. Creating simulations during the development stage of advanced vehicle systems is a much better approach. Figuring this out for autonomous vehicle has broad applicability across other markets.

Jake Harris, Director of IoT for Arrow Electronics, debriefed RIoTers on their SAM car project. What started as a marketing effort became a rallying point for this international company. They built a semi-autonomous race car for Sam Schmidt, a race car driver turned paraplegic turned race car driver again, thanks to their tech.

Seth Hollar of ecoPRT finished off the evening with their vision of self-driving vehicles. Why do self-driving cars need to be the same size as today’s cars? They don’t! They can be smaller, lighter, and save significantly on infrastructure cost. Their pilot project begins at NC State next year.

Bringing this back around to the rapid growth of autonomous vehicles and IoT, Lia Reich of PrecisionHawk summed it up nicely. The VP of Marketing stated that their recent FAA approval to fly drones beyond line of sight will triple their business.

The demand for autonomy and IoT is here. You won’t notice it on a daily basis next year, or maybe even the year after. But like the tide rising, it will slowly roll in, and lift all boats. You’ll look back to 2016 in five years and be amazed at how far we’ve come.