Student, CEO, drone-builder

By NTU HEY! Posted 4yr(s) ago Reading Time: About 10 minutes

Pulkit Jaiswal is a CEO with big ideas and the youngest among 10 outstanding innovators named by MIT Technology Review. Kayce Teo finds out how he is changing the world, a swarm of drones at a time.

At just 23 years old, Pulkit Jaiswal is already into his third start-up company, and has racked up an impressive list of achievements. Besides being named in MIT Technology Review’s list of top innovators under 35 in Asia this year, he’s also been covered in French magazine Futuremag as one of seven young pacesetters to watch.

And these accolades have opened many doors for Pulkit. “I got the chance to present at EmTech Asia, a major conference on up-and-coming technologies, and companies started approaching me right after that to say that they were interested in my ideas.”

Supersmart Drones

The visionary founder-CEO of SwarmX is reinventing drone technology. “At the moment, drones require back-end pilots to control and fly them. We are building a system that bypasses this human factor, reducing labour costs,” says Pulkit.

Central to this system is an intelligent docking station for drones. “It houses a supercomputer that captures data the drones collect, before sending relevant information back to the main control room,” he explains. “We’re now able to scan the landscape or survey terrain in a much more effective way.”

Taking calculated risks

Not one to take the tried-and-tested route, the computer engineering student says he got accepted by a few Ivy League universities but chose NTU because of the flexibility it offered him. “I liked that I could cherry-pick the modules I was interested in,” says Pulkit.

Swarming over the land: Pulkit’s company works with mining companies in Eastern Africa and has drawn interest from government security agencies in Singapore, Djibouti and the Middle East.

In his second year at NTU, he took a leave of absence from his studies to head to Silicon Valley to start an e-commerce site, and became a finalist in the Thiel Fellowship, which funds great ideas from young people who want to build new things.

When asked if he has any advice for those who want to strike out on their own, Pulkit replies: “Break rules and take risks. My family values academic achievements – my brother is a theoretical physicist – so I took a major risk when I put my studies on hold to start a business.”

“But risks must be carefully calculated. Choosing NTU, taking a gap year to go to Silicon Valley, doing courses at Stanford University – I took these steps after much consideration. I’ve gained by meeting others who inspired me to do better, and building a strong network with like-minded people.”

Man vs Machine

Even though Pulkit believes that machines will eventually take over many jobs, he insists that Hollywood’s portrayal of artificial intelligence being the downfall of the human race (think RoboCop, Terminator and the like) will not happen.

“When I was at Silicon Valley, I mingled with a group who are into artificial intelligence – they’ve been studying and programming it since its beginning. And they know to take steps to make sure that a human is always the one to make the final judgement call,” he explains.

“In fact, it’s likely that when machines take over routine jobs, profits will go up. This money could be redistributed to the people, freeing everyone from the need to work for survival.”

Nadine, are you listening?

Story reproduced with permission from NTU’s magazine, HEY!, issue 28.

It’s likely that when machines take over routine jobs, profits will go up. This money could be redistributed to the people. - Pulkit Jaiswal
Founder and CEO of SwarmX

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