Beyond Limits is Spreading NASA’s AI to the World
08/14/2017 05:02 am ET Updated Aug 14, 2017
Vicky Law, Contributor: Freelance Writer | Content Marketer | Social Media Junkie
AI, machine learning, and the internet of things are rapidly permeating every aspect of our lives. Dubbed the “fourth industrial revolution”, it seems everywhere we turn companies are touting the AI capabilities of their products. Everything from self-driving cars to what shows up on Facebook newsfeeds are driven, in part, by artificial intelligence.
As AI rapidly exerts itself in every industry under the sun, it has also had to contend with the growing pains of an over eager market and a deeply complex technology. The popularity of AI is such that the term is in danger of becoming mere marketing parlance, with companies commandeering it to lend excitement and credence to their products. Everyone wants a piece of the AI pie – a pie estimated to be worth $100 billion by 2025.
Truly intelligent, adaptive, and cutting-edge AI technology is rare, but if any program has nurtured such technology, it would be NASA’s Deep Space program. For decades, the program has operated out of Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where scientists have developed proven technology for unmanned robotics and space exploration missions.
In the most desolate of environments, these truly intelligent and autonomous AI systems have learned to analyze situations, think critically, and solve difficult problems with human-like reasoning. Now Caltech and NASA are ready to commercialize this technology. Southern California company, Beyond Limits, which was granted an exclusive license by Caltech to improve and commercialize this technology, recently closed a Series B of $20 million from BP Ventures, and is rapidly establishing itself as the leader in industrial-grade Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) software.
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According to Beyond Limits CEO AJ Abdallat, Artificial General Intelligence represents a massive shift from qualitative machine learning to a “bio-inspired” human-like cognition to understand, learn, reason and solve problems. Not just the rapid crunching of huge amounts of data that is the hallmark of many would-be AI solutions, but truly cognitive computing.
According to Abdallat, AGI is fast, lightweight, and flexible, without the huge amounts of server, power, and human resources requirement of current AI offerings. The smaller infrastructure and cost makes Beyond Limits’ AI solution more scalable than something like Watson or DeepMind.
In addition, Beyond Limits claims its AI can make 1.5 billion calculations per second, 50 times faster than the current market leader. It isn’t coupled to any core platform components, and its software requires a much smaller footprint and is deployable in the cloud, on a chip, or embedded in a device.
“Our technology has tested its mettle in space, which is exponentially more proven deployment than most AI technologies can claim,” says Abdallat. And it was in space that the core benefits of today’s Beyond Limits AI was honed.
“Space is at a premium for these unmanned missions, so this technology was made to be exceptionally light and efficient,” Abdallat explained. “In addition, on missions where the tiniest error can mean the scrapping of millions of dollars in R&D and years of work, failure of unmanned components is not an option. We can’t easily call back a rover that has already been deployed, so the AI had to be developed in such a way that it could solve even unexpected and unforeseen scenarios.” For almost two decades, all NASA missions have utilized the technology Beyond Limits is now introducing to a wider audience.
The industrial applications are numerous. As evidenced by BP’s investment, oil and gas exploration can see huge improvements aided by Beyond Limits’ software, helping locate and develop reservoirs, make unmanned repairs possible for dangerous maintenance, even manage operations at refineries.
Abdallat sees application in everything from transportation to healthcare to finance and beyond. “We are confident that the technology that allows Rovers to land, explore, and bring back information on faraway planets can help humans thrive here on earth. For decades, we’ve been promised an AI revolution, and Beyond Limits is finally fulfilling that promise.”