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Pilot is a social travel hub that uses AI to help you plan, book and share trips

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Pilot, a Vancouver-based startup, wants to connect people via travel and become “the hub of the global travel experience.” To do that, the company has built an all-in-one social trip-planning platform powered by AI to help people discover, plan, book and share trips with friends. The startup is part of the current Battlefield 200 cohort, which exhibited at TechCrunch Disrupt 2023 in San Francisco last week.

Founder and CEO of Pilot Connor Wilson, a serial entrepreneur, came up with the idea of Pilot in 2019 while traveling around Europe. Just after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, when no one was traveling at all, he set up the outfit with a group of four founders. The beta of the app launched in 2022, and without any proactive marketing, Pilot quickly picked up 5,000 users. Now, that figure — again, with no marketing to date — has ballooned to more than 20,000.

Wilson believes the strong take-up has been because Pilot is filling a gap in the market.

“The traditional approach [of travel planning] is very siloed, rigid and surprisingly has no element of social connection that is a big part of traveling,” he said in an interview. “So, we’re starting from the travelers’ perspective and embracing collaboration and personalization from the technical side.”

But it is not building a social network, Wilson stresses. Pilot is more like “building consumer software with social functionality, closer to Google Docs, Notion and Strava than Facebook.”

Yes, yes, we know: there are a lot of AI travel apps out there already. Wilson counters that Pilot is not an app that allows users to meet new people to travel together, nor is it an AI-powered travel agency.

“Users are not meeting new people via the Pilot app in a blind fashion. They control who they share their plans with,” Willson said. “Our platform gives them tools to help them connect with and collaborate with their friends, family, and partners through travel.”

Its AI trip planner, called Quickstart, generates an itinerary with personalized recommendations based on the user’s traveling parties’ preferences and allows users to request any edits or changes via chatting with the AI. Users can sign up, click “Create a trip,” and select specific interests they want to include with a couple of clicks. The platform also helps users book stays and flights. After the travel, users can share their trips on its blog.

“It’ll remind people of ChatGPT at first, but the visual layout and robust recommendations are what then make it feel unique,” Wilson said.

 

Image Credits: Pilot

Pilot works on affiliate mode: it’s free for consumers to use, and the company earns commissions from vendors when users book their travels through the Pilot platform. That being said, revenue has not been its focus now. “We’ve been building the platform to plan trips on and growing our community,” said Wilson. “This has set us up to now explore the limitless opportunities for monetization.”

Its web app is available to access worldwide, serving English-speaking countries; its mobile app is coming out later this year, he added. Pilot intends to expand further to the Latin American and Asia markets for travelers.

The outfit aims to benefit all types of travelers, but now its users are primarily underserved travelers. “Those that love to travel in groups of friends and backpackers, digital nomads, and remote workers looking to make the most of their shared experiences,” Wilson says.

Pilot was also a part of the Creative Destruction Lab’s accelerator program this year.

Pilot, which has raised roughly $650,000 from angel investors, is now looking to raise $4 million to focus more on building out its social side of the platform.



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NASA Shares Incredible Picture Of ‘Space Potato’ Phobos; It Will Soon Crash Into Mars

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Ever seen a space potato? NASA is here to treat you with one. The agency has shared a fascinating image of Phobos, the larger of two moons of Mars, explaining what makes this object so intriguing.

Meauring just 27 by 22 by 18 kilometres in diameter, Phobos orbits Mars about 6,000 km above the red planet’s surface and it is on a collision course with Earth.

This is the closest any Moon orbits a planet and Phobos might crash into Mars in the future. Scientists estimate that this is likely to happen within 50 million years. Another likely scenario of Phobos’ end will be its potential obliteration into pieces, eventually forming a ring around Mars.

According to NASA, Phobos is nearing Mars at the rate of six feet each year.

ALSO SEE: We May Have Been Wrong About Martian Moon Phobos’ Origin, It Could Be A Comet

Phobos (left) and Deimos (right). Image: NASA

Describing the image, the agency said that it was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, which has been studying Mars since 2006.

Phobos was discovered along with its twin just six days apart by astronomer Asaph Hall in 1877.

ALSO SEE: ISRO’s Mangalyaan Presents Breathtaking Video Of Martian Moon ‘Phobos’

The Moon also has several craters but the most dominant one is the 10-km-wide Stickeny crater which Hall named after his wife Angelina.

The second moon is Deimos which measures 15 by 12 by 11 kilometres and orbits the red planet every 30 hours. Both the moons are named after the mythological sons of Ares, the Greek counterpart of the Roman god. Phobos means fear and Deimos means dread, says NASA. As for their origin, astronomers believe they could be asteroids or debris caught by Mars in the early solar system.

(Image: NASA)





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Rare ‘Gigantic Jets’ Spotted Above The Himalayas, NASA Shares Viral Picture

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NASA recently shared a captivating image of gigantic jets soaring from a thunderstorm toward the Himalayan Mountains in China and Bhutan. This composite image, featured in NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day segment on June 18, reveals four immense jets captured within minutes of each other.

Gigantic jets are a rare and fascinating type of lightning discharge that have only been documented since the early 2000s. Unlike conventional lightning that occurs between clouds or strikes the ground, gigantic jets bridge the gap between thunderstorms and the Earth’s ionosphere, the layer of the atmosphere that is ionised by solar and cosmic radiation, NASA said.

Jets of lightning spotted over the Himalayas. Image: NASA/Li Xuanhua

These jets are unique in their appearance and behavior, differing significantly from traditional lightning phenomena.

ALSO SEE: Webb Telescope Photographs Baby Stars Burping Out Gases For The First Time

Despite their visual grandeur, the precise mechanisms and triggers behind gigantic jets are still under investigation. What is known is that these jets help to balance electrical charges between different layers of the Earth’s atmosphere, playing a crucial role in maintaining the atmospheric electrical circuit.

For those interested in observing this phenomenon, a powerful but distant thunderstorm viewed from a clear vantage point offers the best chance.

As these jets typically shoot upwards from the storm tops into the ionosphere, they can often be seen from hundreds of kilometers away under the right conditions.

ALSO SEE: NASA Shares First Cosmic Image Of 2024 And It’s Exploding With Stars



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‘Ram Setu’ Looks Stunning In Latest Satellite Image Shared By ESA

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The European Space Agency (ESA) has released a remarkable image of Ram Setu, also known as Adam’s Bridge, captured by its Copernicus Sentinel-2 satellite.

Ram Setu has long intrigued historians, geologists, and the general public. While it has a religious significance for Hindus, geological evidence suggests that these limestone shoals are remnants of an ancient landmass that once linked India and Sri Lanka.

This ancient chain of shoals, which stretches 48 kilometers from Rameswaram Island off the southeastern coast of India to Mannar Island in Sri Lanka, serves as a natural divider between the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait.

It is predominantly composed of sandbanks and the area is fairly shallow. It ranges just between 1-10 meters deep, ESA says.

ALSO SEE: Gujarat’s Luna Crater Catches NASA’s Attention; Satellite Image Released

The Adam’s Bridge. Image: ESA

Mannar Island, covering approximately 130 square kilometers, is connected to mainland Sri Lanka via both a road bridge and a railway bridge, located at the island’s southern end. On the Indian side, Rameswaram Island, also known as Pamban Island, is accessible through the 2-kilometer-long Pamban Bridge.

ALSO SEE: NASA’s Satellite Images Show Grim Condition Of The UAE Before And After Floods

Both ends of Ram Setu are part of protected national parks in India and Sri Lanka, underscoring the region’s ecological importance. Moreover, the shallow waters surrounding the bridge are rich in biodiversity, home to numerous species of fish and seagrasses.

According to ESA, the marine life around Adam’s Bridge includes dolphins, dugongs, and turtles, making it a crucial habitat for these species.





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