Marlo Anderson is a dedicated techie. So dedicated, that in his years of working with countless computers, he’s been willing to sacrifice his own hair.

“Every time I get shocked by a computer, I lose a hair,” he said. “Remember that at 1 Million Cups, when you see that I only have three left.”


Anderson, the co-founder of Awesome 2 Products, Zoovio, Inc., and Start-up National Day Calendar in Mandan, is traveling to Fargo to speak at tomorrow’s 1 Million Cups, starting at 9:15 am at the Stage at Island Park.

The former 1 Million Cups Bismarck speaker is also the host of the radio talk show the Tech Ranch, a role that earned him the title “The Guru of Geek.”

On the show he covers the latest and greatest in the tech world, most recently, cars that drive themselves and a Bluetooth equipped winter hat called the eBeanie.

“I’ve always been fascinated with technology and its capabilities,” Anderson said. “It keeps your mind fresh.”

The Guru of Geek certainly has a fresh perspective on the role of technology in society. For most people, he said, technology is talked about as something new or up and coming.

The way he sees it, technology has been around forever.

“The caveman thought the wheel was new,” he said. “To them, that was a big deal. There always is something new and around the corner.”

What’s around the corner for Anderson, and what he will be sharing primarily about at 1 Million Cups tomorrow, is his work on the longest contiguous highway in the country: the Autonomous Friendly Corridor.

B0jrxpoCYAE-XW3The project, which Anderson said he has been working on for over half a year, was made public on March 20, 2014 by The Central North American Trade Corridor Association. They describe the Corridor as “an area designated and regulated for the use of unmanned vehicles in commerce.”

Visualize a road, 15-20 miles wide, over 1,885 miles long, stretching from North Dakota to Texas. On the road are cars, hauling goods to their destinations.

But they have no drivers.

They are autonomous; self-functioning, able to sense their environment via radar, lidar, GPS, and computer vision, navigating without human input.

In the sky above the corridor are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, also transporting cargo within their confined airspace.

Every 200 miles there are Land Ports, where the vehicles can be refueled and serviced, cargo unloaded or added, and drones (UAVs) can land and be serviced as well.

This is the picture the CNATCA paints when describing the Autonomous Friendly Corridor on their website.

When they first released this idea, Anderson said, they were immediately swamped with media attention.

“We received hundreds of calls,” he said. “It sort of forced us to move forward. It grew out of an idea that was homegrown.”

Tomorrow Anderson will be sharing more about this game-changing idea in just a 6 minute presentation. While he knows that is not enough time to talk about everything, he finds the most important part of 1 Million Cups to be the question and answer period. That, he said, is what really ties the community together.

Another feature he values about the event, which he has seen in action through 1 Million Cups Bismarck, is the conversations and partnerships that can happen between a broke entrepreneur in jeans and a t-shirt with a businessman in a three-piece suit.

“The networking opportunity is just unbelievable,” he said. “I’ve never seen so many people get so much business done in so little amount of time. There’s no prejudice, it’s just everyone in one room working together.”

If you have never had the 1 Million Cups experience that Anderson (and many others) testify to, come tomorrow morning at 9:15 am to the Stage at Island Park. Coffee and quality conversation will be provided; we ask only that you bring your mug.

And if you’re hesitating about committing to the event, just remember: this guy was willing to give up his hair for the techie life.

Now that’s commitment.



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Marisa Jackels