tv Press Here NBC November 28, 2021 9:00am-9:30am PST
this week, defending the nation's infrastructure and national treasure against drones. a tv manufacturer navigates the supply chain. and finally, the flying car we were all promised. we sit down with si a silicon valley genius, all this weeks on "press:here." good morning, everyone, i'm scott mcgrew. roundabout this time we warn young people and some not so young people there are a lot of rules about flying drones, because come december, there are a lot of new drone flyers in the
sky. a simple consumer level drone can have a devastating impact with an airplane or a helicopter. but more and more organizations are worrying about something far more scary. drones that were deliberately weaponized, with explosives or other deadly cargo. a san francisco company called d-drone is working on drone detection and mitigation. i'm looking forward to hearing what mitigation means in this context. mary-lou smulders is a leader at dedrone. she says military bases are unprotected and overconfident. thank you for joining us. the fbi revealed they knew of an attempted drone attack on a power substation in pennsylvania. so this is really the first time we have documented proof that people were using drones to do something nefarious. >> that's exactly right. in fact it was the first drone-based attack on u.s. soil
that we're aware of. and building on that, i think it's safe to say that it doesn't take a frankly even effort to create something like the next 9/11 attack which did require quite a bit of imagination. >> yeah, it seems fairly obvious, if i'm a bad guy, you know, and we're not giving away any bad guy secrets, drones seem to be a very easy way of getting that in. so you protect certain places from drones. tell me the process. how do you detect a drone, then how do you determine it's a threat, and then how do you end that threat? >> that's a great question. so you're exactly right, the first thing you have to do is detect it. the next step is to identify friend or foe, what kind of drone is it, does it have a payload, what kind of range is
it, how far can it go, and then track it. where is it and where is the pilot? we do that through a series of sensor inputs. we have our own radiofrequency capability. but we also bring in many different kinds of sensors. we spent a lot of time krieg an open platform and then building on that with an aiml, artificial intelligence machine learning capability, to virtually eliminate false positives. you don't want someone crying wolf every time they might see a drone. and ultimately it will be able to tell you friend or foe through recognized or not recognized drones. >> but you're not setting up radar stations, right? these are maybe audio sensors or radiofrequency sensors? because we know what frequency drones work at. >> right. we do use radiofrequency sensors, and we use
triangulation to locate those drones as well as the pilot. you ask the second piece of the question, now i see the drone, what do i do about it. and we have that problem today. often we see them too close to the critical infrastructure that we're concerned about. but either way, once you see the drone, what can you do about it? locating the pilot is going to be the first and most important step for most security officers today, to be able to, like a stranger entering a plant, go and have a conversation with them and talk to them about what they may or may not be doing, whether they're nefarious or what we in the industry call the careless and the clueless, the ones that are simply flying, don't mean to be in a place they shouldn't be but are perhaps too close to an airport or a power station. >> and then can you end that threat? can you jam a frequency? let's say we've determined this thing is a threat, we haven't found the pilot yet, but this is a critical threat at this
moment. can you knock that drone out of the sky? >> do you look good in orange? >> of course. >> the short answer is that inside the united states, drones are given the same protections as airplanes. unless you are in a very special situation and work for, say, the fbi, you cannot mitigate that drone with knocking it out of the sky. there are ways to do it. our company does offer that. but that is more in a warfare type of situation. >> okay. or outside of the united states, you also hinted at that. but inside the united states, even if i had, say, critical infrastructure -- actually let's think of a prison, a prison yard. a prison can't either through kinetic ways or through radiofrequency knock that drone down even though it's hovering over the yard? >> that's correct.
so what do you do about it, that's the big question. and you're exactly right, prisons are one of the biggest industries facing this issue today. drones are cheap, easy to fly, and have bigger and bigger payloads. over the summer there was a 50-pound drop in a prison yard that was documented. so the idea is you need to detect it early and far away enough, just like any security issue, to give the security teams time to react. once it's over the prison yard, you're too late. that's what we do, we help detect the drone much further away, giving the security teams time to react. >> and because airspace law in the united states is pretty complex, i can't -- i could set up your stuff, your equipment, in my backyard, to detect a drone coming, but i can't do anything about it. the airspace above my house is sort of a public venue.
>> again, there are certain privacies that you are allowed. >> particularly under california law. >> right. and you absolutely could set up -- we have vips that have this kind of solution in place. but then it requires coordination with local law enforcement to help mitigate that threat to your home. >> airports are a particular worry. i mentioned that off the top. there was a series of drone problems near london. people may be surprised to know that airports, which you think of as full of radar, can't necessarily detect drones. >> right. again, absolutely. gatwick is interesting, because clearly the worry is human life threat. but what's underdocumented is that over 60 million pounds was lost in operations over the three days that they were on again, off again. and the faa is actively working this problem. they're counting drone
sightings. that's purely visual drone sightings across the u.s. and they're noting 74% -- we're on track for a 74% increase in drone activity across airports in the u.s., based purely on that visual sighting. so again, what can you do about it? the issue with radar is they have many false positives. they see a bird, they see a plane, they see a drone. it's really hard for a pure radar solution to determine whether it's a drone or not a drone. that's where you need a specialist like dedrone. >> so you're detecting them through radiofrequencies. are you working directly with drone makers like dji? >> we often reverse engineer the
drone frequencies and other, as you say, tells or marks that drones give, you're exactly right. >> one measure of how seriously people are taking your company, because there are i'm sure lots of startups doing this, is you have contracts with department of defense and other federal agencies and cities all over the world. i mean, this is something where people have found your collusion and are taking it seriously. >> so we do indeed work for four of the g7 nation governments. we're in 33 countries around the world. and as you hinted at, our main industries are airports, we're at almost 20 international airports around the world, 50 prisons around the world, and the critical infrastructure, substations you mentioned earlier, we're at over 55 critical infrastructure areas around the world. interestingly, on that note, if you go back to your idea of a
terrorist attack and what could happen, if we think back to the houston incident that just happened, imagine dropping sentinels on a stadium full of people. or almost equally detrimental, just talcum powder. >> right, that would cause the same panic. >> the same panic. so i do think, you know, as sort of a closing thought, that it is something that, you know, fingers crossed and knock on wood, nothing that serious has happened in the u.s. yet. but like the pennsylvania incident that you mentioned at the top, it's something we really need to think about going forward. >> mary-lou smulders is from dedrone. thank you for joining us this morning. "press:here" will be right back.
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welcome back to "press:here." when i was a kid, heck, when my parents were kids, we were promised a bunch of things for the future. one of the main things was the flying car. and leave it to the guy behind google's self-driving car to perhaps figure it out. the kitty hawk heavyside is an electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, and it works. sebastian thrun is one of the smartest people in silicon
valley. the other smart people in silicon valley might say he's smarter than they are. ceo of kitty hawk, currently a company backed by larry page. thanks for being with us. kitty hawk is obvious to most americans, what the reference is, particularly to people who like aviation. your airplane is called the heavyside. my need thought was that had something to do with the musical "cats." but apparently not. >> the one thing you want to do in aviation is make things lighter and lighter. we started out pretty heavy, and now we're down to about 400 kilograms. >> excellent. so you've got a very efficient airplane. are we going to call it an airplane? it's not a drone. what are we calling this thing? >> i don't quite know. i think flying car is beautiful because there was a childhood dream. it doesn't really drive. >> it doesn't drive around, but you would use it, say, to
commute. >> you want to lift up and drive in the sky, a gravity shield kind of thing. it's a tongue twister and nobody can remember it, electric vertical -- almost like an electric helicopter but it's more like a drone. >> it is more like a drone. there is a person who will sit inside. is it a passenger, a pilot, both? >> not a pilot. you're a pilot, you know it takes forever to be a pilot. we want it to be trustworthy, just like your elevator or your airport train. you just get inside and you push it with your phone, your destination, and it gets you there. >> have you put people in it yet or are you still testing? >> in the latest version, we are just go to get a person in there. we've had more than a hundred different people and they loved it. >> yes, the earlier version. that was a model you decided not
to go with. this is a new model. what was the decision process moving on to this one? >> it was performance. we looked at the performance of how far you can fly, how fast, what energy you use. our most recent version is about three times as green as the best electric car you get on the market. we fly at a third of the energy as the tesla model 3. that means for anybody who cares about things like global warming, they should love what we do because we can massively cut down on the energy consumption of cities. >> that is a fascinating statistic. i guess we would measure that in kilowatt hours if we're trying to compare it to miles per gallon. your flying machine is more efficient, gets you to a place for less than an electric car would. >> i firmly believe the future of daily transportation will be in the sky because it's more energy efficient. it's also safer.
you have much more clearance with other vehicles. cars are actually very unsafe, they kill more than a million people every year on this planet. it's going to be faster. we go up to 180 miles per hour, roughly 10x the average commute speed in the bay area. if you have an hour-long commute, imagine that done in six minutes, how cool would that be? >> and as car makers struggle to automate cars, a flying machine is ironically easier, there are few things to hit. modern day airliners land themselves as it is. >> yeah, there's an airplane that now has a button, the pilot has a heart attack, as a passenger you can push the button and the aircraft lands itself safely. and it happens not to be as hard as building a self-driving car because the sky is fairly empty whereas the ground is pretty
full. if you're in a car, kids are playing around, trees are there. but you go up 500 feet and it's virtually nothing, it's completely empty. it's something society hasn't quite grasped, we have this real estate called the sky that we can use for transportation. that's what we're doing. >> i'm counting eight propellers on this machine. what is the purpose behind that? a cessna has one propeller, a c-130 has four. you've got eight. >> it's redundancy. when you go electric, your motors becomes really small. cessna has a big chemical factory that turns gas into motion by burning it. we just have little tiny magnets inside our electric motors. it gives us a distributed redundant propulsion system. sounds complicated. what it really means is you have eight motors, if you lose one, say to a bird strike, you have seven left. you can fly just about the same as before. >> the air force has expressed
interest in this device. is that something you had imagined, you know, that it be something involved with the military? i would imagine you started this as something that was going to be for a commuter. >> we do this for every person. i'm a really, really big fan of the air force and the military, it's important for our safety and supporting that is important to me as a person, as an immigrant, and also as a citizen of this country. and of course the air force is innovative, the air force has provisions by which they can help us get visas and safety reviewers that differ from civilian life. for example, we just did an experiment in ohio together with the air force, nasa, and the department of transportation in ohio, to refuel one of our aircraft in a way that a ground observer wasn't even seeing it anymore. that's something that is actually, for an autonomous aircraft that has no person inside, a big, big step. it's another acronym, beyond
visual line of sight, bvls. >> of course you have a history of working with darpa as well. >> yeah. i love darpa. >> what do you see the end user being? let's say you have as many of these in the world as tesla does cars. so, i mean, in the case of tesla, we're talking about an upper middle class person, but not crazy rich, who can afford such a thing. is that about where that market fit is going to be? >> we want to build everyday flight for everyone, okay? and that means it can't be as expensive as a helicopter. helicopters cost 10, 20, 50 bucks per mile. a car costs 50 cents per mile. we want to be at 30 cents per
mail. we want to be a faster, safer, and lower cost transportation so entire cities at some point will swap over. when a city swaps over, you all of a sudden realize how much space is being used for roads. more than half of any city is roads and garages and driveways that you won't need anymore. all of a sudden you can have a booming real estate business using those areas for people that are currently reserved for cars. >> you have a number of competitors who are working on the same sort of thing. but you've also got a great team, you've got chris anderson, you've got michael werda. you've got a team you feel you can really win with. >> look, the biggest obstacles of my team is called sebastian, okay? and i grapple with this every day. i'm getting older. but yes, so the team is amazing. not to dismiss also larry page, our investor, who is involved in
this. and in good silicon valley tradition, we shoot for the stars and we challenge ourselves every single day to be smarter than yesterday. so every single day we reject what we achieved yesterday and tried to improve. silicon valley is a place where people don't take no for an answer, people dream, they envision. dreaming a self-flying car is not that hard. we've had them for quite a while in the media, right? i think for us it's turning a dream into a reality. >> sebastian thrun, i wish you the absolute best of luck. sebastian thrun is the ceo of kitty hawk. "press:here" will be right back.
welcome back to "press:here." last week we were talking to the makers of balsam hill christmas trees about the global supply chain. one of my questions to the ceo was, why wouldn't you just build the trees in america? the answer i got was, as you might expect, it isn't that easy. in every product there is something coming from overseas even if it's just one tiny piece. one company that's managed to build part of its product here on american shores is milpitas-based mirapiz, they
make a tv screen they say is lighter and brighter than anything else out there. arjun kapur is the ceo. i've seen pictures of these tv screens, 100 inches, they're ginormous. you must have some trouble even just explaining to homeowners how big these tvs are. >> yes, so tvs, 65 inch, 75 inch, 85 inch tvs, they really can't get much bigger because they become too heavy, unwieldy to move and mount. we've taken a revolutionary different approach to actually designing a big screen tv, which is using a passive screen that takes in laser light. >> you're talking about a projector, right? but this is not a screen -- this is a high quality projector but also the screen itself, this isn't something like my chemical industry teacher used to pull down from an over the chalkboard. this is a very special screen. >> correct. so it's actually -- it's
actually not really a projector system. the emphasis is really on the screen. and so the projector is just providing a light source. and the magic is in the screen. there's billions and billions of reflective optical elements in the screen that take in laser light from the projector and multiply it, making it extremely bright and extremely high quality. >> and you're making those screens, 4k hd, you're making these on location. what is that a conscious decisions? what was the idea of making the screens here in the united states? >> it's really -- it was really a thing of efficiency, because we did years of research here in the bay area, and so being able to use the research and translate it directly into manufacturing was the reason we kept it here. we're also proud to make a product here in the u.s. and the bay area. >> part of what i'm hearing you say is, it's complicated, making
these screens, and it may be easier to make them where you invented them. >> exactly. >> okay. that just sense. the projector, the associated projector that comes along with it, sits right up against the screen and i would imagine there's some amazing light geometry that goes on to make that happen. you don't need to explain that part, but my question is, on the projector, that is still made overseas, right? how is that working for you? are you able to get the product you need shipped to you so that you can then ship out to the customer? >> yeah, so our partner that supplies the projectors is having difficulties due to the semiconductor and global supply chain issues that are going on right now. so that's actually why we have a preorder system for our product, so that people order it and then they can anticipate, you know, some time due to the supply chain issues before receiving it. >> have you had to tell people, you know, hey, we were targeting
whatever, november 27th but it's looking more like january 5th? >> exactly, yes. so we wanted to have our systems delivered in early december before christmastime, but because of the supply chain issues, it's looking like it's getting pushed to after christmas. >> and that's got to be frustrating for a young company. you want this word of mouth, et cetera, for somebody to come over to a house and go, oh, my gosh, look at the size of that thing, we need one of those too. but you need to get them into houses first. >> exactly, yes. >> let me ask this. will you ask them in time for the super bowl? >> super bowl, definitely. it's amazing, when you're sitting in front of a 100-inch screen and you're up against the players, you feel like you're on the field with them. >> what are you hearing from your suppliers? what do they think that things might get better? >> supply chain issues from our suppliers are predicted to get better potentially in the spring
of 2022. >> that seems good. all right, i wish you the best of luck. arjun kapur is from mirraviz, they make a fantastic 100-inch screen. by the way, "press:here" would look good on a 100-inch screen. we'll be right back. ♪♪ don't worry mom, we'll be there soon. "we?!" is this "the one". well... let's say i found the one who takes me to another level... always stays calm under pressure. most importantly, the one that helps me discover the coolest places.
this sounds wonderful... come outside, i'll introduce you! they're here. ♪♪ definitely "the one". ha... ha... introducing the all-new 2022 nissan frontier. ♪♪ that's our show for this week. a reminder, we have a sister podcast which is about venture capital. it's called "sandhill road." you can find "sandhill road" anywhere you find your quality podcasts. i think if you like this show, you'll like that as well. my thanks to our guests and my thanks to you for making us part of your sunday morning.