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In 2018, autonomous cars, drones and even military trucks have been proven possible. With that in mind – the concept of autonomous buildings may not be as out of reach as we used to think.

With the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), smart buildings are essentially everywhere. With various degrees of intelligent management and control of various building systems, smart buildings today include lighting, HVAC, communications, and security.

In most cases, however, those “smart” capabilities are still relatively limited, don’t always work together, and require a significant amount of human attention to function.

Now, a 5-year-old IoT-centered firm called Igor has a vision in the form of the Nexos smart building platform. The platform is the first step toward truly autonomous buildings.

The company’s founder and CTO, Dwight Stewart, clarifies the nature of the autonomous building of the future as “a building that automatically adapts its behavior to the preferences of each occupant and stakeholder, and astutely balances all these competing preferences.”

Additionally, the building will “configure itself to provide security, health, and safety in the most appropriate way considering all the relevant risks and conditions.”

Another important element of the technology is its capability of balancing within its provided financial budget, and with minimal human intervention.

The technology described above still has a long way to go.

The journey starts by breaking down building systems into a network of modular, plug-and-play components. These systems would collect and analyze a wide variety of data, enabling physical buildings to be managed via software like a virtual machine, easily understood and reconfigured as needed.  

Stewart says that “autonomy is achieved one very focused area at time,” just as autonomous vehicles first perfected cruise control, then upgraded that to adaptive cruise control, and eventually added lane assist.

In a building, the path to autonomy might begin with smart lighting that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to automate users’ lighting preferences.

Finally, “Nexos can now detect if a sensor is disconnected, and requires a human to make that replacement. In the future, it may request a drone service to perform the task,” says Stewart to networkworld.com.