DXC Labs demonstrates drones, machine learning, AR and more at the DXC Technology 600

For the first time, a drone delivered the green flag to the starting line at a major sporting event, at Texas Motor Speedway on June 9. DXC Labs — which focuses on development of emerging technologies used in digital transformation — was there every step of the way. We worked on planning through execution, and were at the race to watch the drone hand off the green flag to DXC CTO and guest starter, Dan Hushon, and to demo emerging technologies including 3D printing, virtual reality, augmented reality, machine learning, and computer vision and voice to our clients during the day.

DXC Technology was the title sponsor of the 248-lap IndyCar race, the DXC Technology 600, building on our Team Penske relationship and driver Simon Pagenaud, who maintained P2 position, coming in second after leading for part of the race. What’s DXC’s interest in racing, you ask? Whether running a racing team or managing a business, technology is a key driver of outstanding performance. Here’s a quick look at what we demoed.

Drones

In addition to using a commercial drone to deliver the green flag, we built a custom drone with voice- and mind-control capabilities. Our voice-activated drone uses technology from what3words to provide precise location directions to within three square meters, anywhere in the world. This means the drone operator can give a voice command using a pre-defined three-word identifier, such as “accuses.debacles.oversight” (one such identifier at Texas Motor Speedway), that will send the drone to a specific location. Our use of what3words to operate a voice-controlled drone last year was another first. (Learn more.)

We also integrated a special “electroencephalography (EEG)” headset with the drone that can read the brain’s electrical signals, for example to detect blinks, or if you are paying attention. If your hands are busy fixing a power line, you could blink to have the drone take a photo of the line (or operate some other tool on the drone). This is really helpful if you need to work hands-free and if voice is too slow.

If you’re falling asleep, the headset can detect that and issue an alert to wake you up — especially useful when operating the drone. This is just the start of what is possible in this new era of human-computer interaction, and DXC’s frontier partners like Facebook are working on mind-reading technology!

Our camera on the drone was equipped with machine learning hardware from Intel (Movidius) and software from Google (TensorFlow) to identify objects and faces in real time. This gives the drone the ability to make sense of what it sees, for example identifying objects like buildings and trees (as we had trained it to do), or the faces of employees or fugitives. This is similar to the technology used in self-driving cars to differentiate between cars, bikes and pedestrians, and to interpret street signs and signals.

Augmented Reality

We demoed four self-contained Oculus Go augmented reality (AR) headsets that let people see the 360-degree footage that the drone took of the speedway. When you put on the headset you get the same view as the driver, sharp curves and all, though you need to have the stomach for it! It’s as though you’re flying on the underbelly of the drone; you can look around as you fly, even behind you.

From around 1,000 of the drone’s high resolution photos, we used cloud services to create a 3D model of the speedway, which TMS can use in sales and operational functions, like placement of security personnel and features for full coverage. This capability has implications for mine sites, construction sites, oil rigs and any physical site where a digital rendering aids exploration, visualisation and “what if” scenarios.

We also demoed an augmented reality (AR)-based electronic medical record system for healthcare customers. Simply point a tablet’s camera at the barcode on a hospital wrist band and the patient’s health records appear in an overlaid augmented reality view. This greatly helps healthcare providers by having the patient’s full history at their fingertips. Adding the machine learning technology will help doctors and nurses to securely retrieve records from patients’ faces!

3D Printing

We demoed a 3D printer and a number of print samples, including keychains, a structure that would be impossible to create using traditional methods, and even a number of prosthetic hands. The idea here is to 3D print prosthetics, especially for children, who grow and need new prosthetics every six months or so. 3D printing lets you do that economically.

3D Printing Supply Chain

Ordering parts from third-party vendors is not always the best way to acquire them. With rapid developments in additive manufacturing, it is now possible to create items from a myriad of substances, including human tissue!

DXC Labs’ 3D printing proof-of-concept for procurement simulates creation of a part in-house to determine whether it is a faster, cheaper way to service a request — that is, printing it versus ordering it as required. Our cloud warehouse solution (part of the proof of concept) also allows for self-service.

Transforming ideas

Just as speed and agility are core components to winning races, they are essential for transforming emerging technology ideas into practical business services. At DXC Labs we work with partners and colleagues across DXC to leverage innovation, test new ideas, move fast and get out in front.

Pictured at top, left to right, from DXC Technology: Phillip Matheson, Sam Johnston, Dan Hushon and Chris Cornelius


Sam Johnston is director of DXC Labs, whose mission is to ensure that DXC Technology is fully equipped with the emerging digital technologies it needs to lead clients through accelerating change. This includes drones, robotics and humanoids, 3D printing, computer vision and voice, AR/VR, artificial intelligence and machine learning, blockchain, chatbots and quantum computing. @samj

 

Phillip Matheson is associate chief technologist, innovation and emerging technologies, at DXC Technology. He has an intense curiosity for technology in general, which has led him to develop skills and experience in a variety of fields including drones, 3D printing, AR/VR and machine learning. Technologists such as Phillip are ideal for connecting people, technology and business opportunities. @PhillipMatheson

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  1. […] internet of things.  The tech focus for the IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway this event was drones, AI and 3D printing to support the racing and automotive […]

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