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Vietnamese drones land in world market

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Vietnamese developers recently brought ‘Hera’ – an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by a Vietnamese startup – on a tour in the U.S. where they showed potential partners just how impressive Vietnamese tech had become.

Despite it being small enough to fit into a backpack, Hera can carry up to 15 kilograms and be assembled in just a few minutes.

The very first order

Hera is the brainchild of Vietnamese engineer, Dr. Luong Viet Quoc, the founder and CEO of Vietnam-based RealTime Robotics Inc. (RtR).

Dr. Quoc and his team spent six years and hundreds of billions of Vietnamese dong developing Hera.

“It’s really excellent,” said JT Von Lunen, CEO of RMUS Inc. (the U.S.), who recently took Hera for a test flight in Colorado.

RMUS Inc. specializes in selling drones across the North American market.

Von Lunen shared that he was particularly impressed with Hera’s ability to carry such a heavy payload, as well as its hour-long flight capacity.

The Hera unmanned aerial vehicle is a multi-purpose drone. Photo: CT / Tuoi Tre
The Hera unmanned aerial vehicle is a multi-purpose drone. Photo: C.T. / Tuoi Tre

Given RAMUS’s experience in testing some of the best drones from around the world, Von Lunen’s praise for Hera is a testament that Vietnamese tech is capable of hanging with traditional global powerhouses.

RAMUS first developed a relationship with RtR after the two partnered to develop hardware and software for a specialized camera that could detect oil and gas leaks. 

When RtR was ready to deliver the camera, they used it as an opportunity to unveil Hera.

RAMUS was so impressed with Hera that they signed a US$500,000 contract to serve as RtR’s distributor for Hera drones, each of which sells for $58,000 (VND1.4 billion). 

The first product shipment RtR made to RAMUS was during the final days of 2022.

Dr. Luong Viet Quoc and Hera. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre
Dr. Luong Viet Quoc and Hera. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Made in Vietnam

RtR is headquartered at Saigon Hi-tech Park in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City.

The RtR team, which includes about 60 engineers, is split between departments that specialize in R&D, invention, machinery, and AI.

Phi Duy Quang, RtR’s chief mechanical engineer, shared that most of Hera’s mechanical details were developed by the company’s young team of engineers, including its compact frame that folds when in the air and can support such heavy weight.

Of course, this success wasn’t without failure, and the team rejected dozens of prototypes before setting on their current designs for Hera.

The team at RtR also developed the batteries used by Hera in order to ensure the UAV could boast a longer flight time than drones operated by batteries currently available on the global market.

Currently, Hera can stay in the air for about an hour and travel up to 15 kilometers carrying its full payload of 15 kilograms.

Still, Dr. Quoc’s team has plans to continue making improvements to its intelligence and underlying software.

“By programming the software ourselves, we can control [Hera’s] quality and technology. We set the primary and ultimate goal of creating a leading Vietnamese product, so we do not copy what currently exists,” explained Dr. Quoc, adding that the flexibility of the drone’s current software allows it to be used for a variety of tasks, from geography to defense-related projects, as well as rescue and relief missions.

Dr. Quoc pointed to the case of Vietship 01 as a possible use for drones like Hera. 

Vietship 01 found itself stuck in the mouth of the Cua Viet River in the central coastal province of Quang Tri in 2020.

Had rescuers had a drone like Hera, it would have made it much easier to support both the rescue team and the crew trapped on the ship as they battled the river’s violent waves, particularly given the drone’s ability to fly in strong winds, as well as to transport fresh water and food.

The drone is also equipped with a loudspeaker and flashlight so that rescuers and victims can communicate in real time.

RtR considers it a priority to make high quality Vietnamese products. Photo: CT / Tuoi Tre
RtR considers it a priority to make high quality Vietnamese products. Photo: C.T. / Tuoi Tre

2023: a milestone

Startups often face challenges in terms of finances, personnel, products, and sales. Many even reach the point where they are ready to launch commercially but wind up failing simply because they can’t compete with those who already hold significant market share.

In order to keep his own dream alive, Dr. Quoc has spent more than VND100 billion ($4.2 million) and even sold his own house to ensure his RtR remains funded.

He also convinced friends and family to fund RtR by touting its made-in-Vietnam provenance.

“Launching [Hera] has still been comparatively cheap because it has only cost one-tenth of what it would have been in the U.S.,” Dr. Quoc said.

“If we had established the company in America, we would have spent no less than $50 million, and it would not have been certain that we would have developed such a desirable product.”

Ensuring adequate human talent has also been difficult for Dr. Quoc and RtR.

“We have the opportunity to find other jobs with higher pay, but we stay at RtR because we can freely pursue our own passion for creativity,” said Tran Quang Khoi, leader of RtR’s AI team.

According to Dr. Quoc, his investors are not investing in his company, but also his young talent.  He also sees these investments as investments in Vietnam itself.

“In 2023, Vietnamese people will be proud that RtR put the Vietnamese national flag on the world map of drones,” Dr. Quoc said.

“Right now, I feel relaxed and happy because we are on the right track and have already received orders. I believe we will take off in 2023.”

Ambition and enthusiasm

Over the past 20 years ago, Dr. Quoc’s innovation has been featured in Tuoi Tre (Youth) articles – “Xanh tu nhung dong kenh den” (Being green from black channels, July 12, 2002) and “Luong Viet Quoc va 8 hoc bong dao tao tien si tai My” (Luong Viet Quoc and 8 doctoral fellowships in the U.S., July 30, 2014).

Dr. Quoc’s educational pedigree includes a Fulbright scholarship, a master’s degree from Cornell College, and a doctorate at UC Berkeley.

After working in the U.S. for several years, Dr. Luong Viet Quoc decided to return to his hometown.

Now, at the age of 57, he feels younger than ever and ready to take on the world.

Like us on Facebook or  follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

Vietnamese developers recently brought ‘Hera’ – an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) developed by a Vietnamese startup – on a tour in the U.S. where they showed potential partners just how impressive Vietnamese tech had become.

Despite it being small enough to fit into a backpack, Hera can carry up to 15 kilograms and be assembled in just a few minutes.

The very first order

Hera is the brainchild of Vietnamese engineer, Dr. Luong Viet Quoc, the founder and CEO of Vietnam-based RealTime Robotics Inc. (RtR).

Dr. Quoc and his team spent six years and hundreds of billions of Vietnamese dong developing Hera.

“It’s really excellent,” said JT Von Lunen, CEO of RMUS Inc. (the U.S.), who recently took Hera for a test flight in Colorado.

RMUS Inc. specializes in selling drones across the North American market.

Von Lunen shared that he was particularly impressed with Hera’s ability to carry such a heavy payload, as well as its hour-long flight capacity.

The Hera unmanned aerial vehicle is a multi-purpose drone. Photo: CT / Tuoi Tre
The Hera unmanned aerial vehicle is a multi-purpose drone. Photo: C.T. / Tuoi Tre

Given RAMUS’s experience in testing some of the best drones from around the world, Von Lunen’s praise for Hera is a testament that Vietnamese tech is capable of hanging with traditional global powerhouses.

RAMUS first developed a relationship with RtR after the two partnered to develop hardware and software for a specialized camera that could detect oil and gas leaks. 

When RtR was ready to deliver the camera, they used it as an opportunity to unveil Hera.

RAMUS was so impressed with Hera that they signed a US$500,000 contract to serve as RtR’s distributor for Hera drones, each of which sells for $58,000 (VND1.4 billion). 

The first product shipment RtR made to RAMUS was during the final days of 2022.

Dr. Luong Viet Quoc and Hera. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre
Dr. Luong Viet Quoc and Hera. Photo: Quang Dinh / Tuoi Tre

Made in Vietnam

RtR is headquartered at Saigon Hi-tech Park in District 9, Ho Chi Minh City.

The RtR team, which includes about 60 engineers, is split between departments that specialize in R&D, invention, machinery, and AI.

Phi Duy Quang, RtR’s chief mechanical engineer, shared that most of Hera’s mechanical details were developed by the company’s young team of engineers, including its compact frame that folds when in the air and can support such heavy weight.

Of course, this success wasn’t without failure, and the team rejected dozens of prototypes before setting on their current designs for Hera.

The team at RtR also developed the batteries used by Hera in order to ensure the UAV could boast a longer flight time than drones operated by batteries currently available on the global market.

Currently, Hera can stay in the air for about an hour and travel up to 15 kilometers carrying its full payload of 15 kilograms.

Still, Dr. Quoc’s team has plans to continue making improvements to its intelligence and underlying software.

“By programming the software ourselves, we can control [Hera’s] quality and technology. We set the primary and ultimate goal of creating a leading Vietnamese product, so we do not copy what currently exists,” explained Dr. Quoc, adding that the flexibility of the drone’s current software allows it to be used for a variety of tasks, from geography to defense-related projects, as well as rescue and relief missions.

Dr. Quoc pointed to the case of Vietship 01 as a possible use for drones like Hera. 

Vietship 01 found itself stuck in the mouth of the Cua Viet River in the central coastal province of Quang Tri in 2020.

Had rescuers had a drone like Hera, it would have made it much easier to support both the rescue team and the crew trapped on the ship as they battled the river’s violent waves, particularly given the drone’s ability to fly in strong winds, as well as to transport fresh water and food.

The drone is also equipped with a loudspeaker and flashlight so that rescuers and victims can communicate in real time.

RtR considers it a priority to make high quality Vietnamese products. Photo: CT / Tuoi Tre
RtR considers it a priority to make high quality Vietnamese products. Photo: C.T. / Tuoi Tre

2023: a milestone

Startups often face challenges in terms of finances, personnel, products, and sales. Many even reach the point where they are ready to launch commercially but wind up failing simply because they can’t compete with those who already hold significant market share.

In order to keep his own dream alive, Dr. Quoc has spent more than VND100 billion ($4.2 million) and even sold his own house to ensure his RtR remains funded.

He also convinced friends and family to fund RtR by touting its made-in-Vietnam provenance.

“Launching [Hera] has still been comparatively cheap because it has only cost one-tenth of what it would have been in the U.S.,” Dr. Quoc said.

“If we had established the company in America, we would have spent no less than $50 million, and it would not have been certain that we would have developed such a desirable product.”

Ensuring adequate human talent has also been difficult for Dr. Quoc and RtR.

“We have the opportunity to find other jobs with higher pay, but we stay at RtR because we can freely pursue our own passion for creativity,” said Tran Quang Khoi, leader of RtR’s AI team.

According to Dr. Quoc, his investors are not investing in his company, but also his young talent.  He also sees these investments as investments in Vietnam itself.

“In 2023, Vietnamese people will be proud that RtR put the Vietnamese national flag on the world map of drones,” Dr. Quoc said.

“Right now, I feel relaxed and happy because we are on the right track and have already received orders. I believe we will take off in 2023.”

Ambition and enthusiasm

Over the past 20 years ago, Dr. Quoc’s innovation has been featured in Tuoi Tre (Youth) articles – “Xanh tu nhung dong kenh den” (Being green from black channels, July 12, 2002) and “Luong Viet Quoc va 8 hoc bong dao tao tien si tai My” (Luong Viet Quoc and 8 doctoral fellowships in the U.S., July 30, 2014).

Dr. Quoc’s educational pedigree includes a Fulbright scholarship, a master’s degree from Cornell College, and a doctorate at UC Berkeley.

After working in the U.S. for several years, Dr. Luong Viet Quoc decided to return to his hometown.

Now, at the age of 57, he feels younger than ever and ready to take on the world.

Like us on Facebook or  follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/features/20230122/vietnamese-drones-land-in-world-market/70990.html

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Cashless payments on the rise: convenience and security for expats in Việt Nam

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A customer scans QR codes while shopping at Cồn market in Đà Nẵng. VNS/VNA Photo Quốc Dũng

Seán Nolan

HÀ NỘI — Gone are the days of ‘cash is king’, and cashless payments are changing how we all transact and manage our finances. But, while the convenience is clear, is this change entirely a good thing?

As digital payment methods surge in popularity, expats in Việt Nam are not alone in embracing the change to cashless transactions. 

The advantages are clear; secure encryption and biometric authentication lowers the risk of theft, and many expats see these payment options as a safer alternative to carrying cash. 

Even if you are unlucky enough to fall victim to a pickpocket, you can rest assured that your money is not accessible. For the hapless tourist, unwary expat or tired local, cashless payments reduce the risk of being short-changed, scammed or robbed. 

Competition among payment providers has also increased, with companies vying to provide the most convenient and secure digital payment options to attract customers, including expats living in Viet Nam.

Many banks now offer internet banking to foreigners and have fully-fledged English-language versions of their mobile applications to simplify the process.

However, navigating the local banking system and ensuring all paperwork is in order can still pose challenges for some expats (hands up if you’ve ever been locked out of your account because you forgot to send the bank your new work permit?).

Despite these hurdles, the shift towards a cashless society in Việt Nam is inevitable, as seen by trends worldwide. 

In the UK, restaurant chains such as Prezzo and Pizza Hut simply do not accept cash anymore and, according to a 2019 survey, in South Korea just 17 per cent of total transactions involved cash. 

To become a truly cashless society, international cooperation will be needed to ensure seamless transactions for expats with bank accounts outside the country though, as the competition among payment providers heats up, expats can expect even more convenient and secure options in the near future.

As the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s important for expats to adapt and embrace new technologies to stay ahead of the curve. 

Whether it’s mobile banking, e-wallets or other digital payment methods, these tools make transactions easier and more secure for everyone.

In conclusion, around the world the days of ‘cash is king’ are over. Cashless payments are coming to take the crown, and will forever change the way we transact and manage our finances. 

For expats living in Việt Nam, this shift towards digital payments offers a wealth of opportunities and should be embraced to stay ahead in an increasingly digital, and cashless, world. VNS

Source: http://ovietnam.vn/life-in-vietnam/cashless-payments-on-the-rise-convenience-and-security-for-expats-in-viet-nam_341281.html

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Couple in seventies rewrite travel rulebook

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Mong Phước Minh and his wife in Hà Giang. — Photo courtesy of Minh

By Thanh Nga

Mong Phước Minh, 74 and his wife, Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Cúc, 70, from Long Xuyên City, An Giang Province, have completed hundreds of trips at home and abroad, and say these trips are like a spiritual medicine to help them stay healthy and happy.

Back in 2005, Minh’s wife was diagnosed with thyroid and ovarian cancer. And though Minh was depressed and couldn’t hold back his tears, Cúc proved to be a hugely courageous woman. Along with timely treatment at a prestigious hospital, she spent time taking exercise and often asked her husband to travel to relieve stress and find joy in life.

In 2011, when Cúc’s two cancers were finally under control, the couple started to travel more regularly. For Minh, as long as his wife sits behind him, he will drive anywhere to bring joy to his wife.

Recently, they made a journey of more than 30 days across Việt Nam in their ageing Suzuki Vitara. The married couple have just returned home to welcome the Vietnamese New Year.

Mong Phước Minh and his wife, Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Cúc have just made a journey of more than 30 days across Việt Nam. — Photo courtesy of Minh

“After many days of constant moving, sightseeing and challenges, we have returned home safely to celebrate Tết with our children and grandchildren,” Minh said.

Earlier this month, they had seven days to explore the primaeval forests of Nam Trường Sơn where they had no electricity and no phone signal, but still set out to explore the waterfalls and forests.

“We have been travelling together for about 11 years now. We travel a lot, so it has turned into our passion. Whenever we have free time, we are ready for a trip,” Minh told Việt Nam News.

“As usual, we don’t have an exact date, time, and destination, only a general idea. It’s not exactly a principle, just a habit of not wanting to be tied down. We approach things happening on the journey randomly, because they are often unexpected and interesting things.”

Since they were students, they have loved travelling. When getting married, they often took their children around various destinations near their home.

Mong Phước Minh and his wife, Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Cúc. — Photo courtesy of Minh

“At that time, we were busy taking care of our children, working and doing business, so we didn’t have much time to travel. Later, when our children grew up, and the economy was more stable, we had more short trips on tours with our children and friends,” Minh said.

In 2011, at first, the couple planned to go with their friends but as the schedule approached Minh discussed a plan with his wife that they would travel by themselves.

Over the past 11 years, they have made hundreds of trips together, including a motorbike trip from Long Xuyên City to Bờ Y border gate in Kon Tum Province to Laos and a trip across Việt Nam from south to north.

On the first trip, they travelled with a motorbike made in 1990. According to Minh, except for the need to change tyres and spark plugs, the motorbike was completely good.

They made sure to prepare enough medicine, raincoats, umbrellas, flashlights, and a mini rice cooker for the long journey.

The couple have promised their children that they will travel safely so that everyone feels secure. Every day, they call home to let them know where they are.

After a few favourable trips, in early 2012, they asked several friends to ride motorbikes with them across Việt Nam, Laos and Cambodia. The trip was very successful, which left them even more motivated.

During this trip, they passed 120km of old forest belonging to the Don Amphan Reserve in Laos. There were no houses on the way, only the married couple in the middle of many majestic mountains.

Nguyễn Thị Ngọc Cúc takes photos in Thừa Thiên – Huế  during their journey across Việt Nam. — Photo courtesy of Minh

“This road was deserted, but very beautiful. My wife was in awe of it all,” Minh said.

The trip lasted a total of 25 days.

“The joy of travelling by motorbike is that it is a cheap and comfortable way to explore a favourite destination. Many people think that we are rich, as we often travel, but we have to consider it properly. That’s why we often choose to ride a motorbike,” Minh said.

In 2013, Minh and Cúc completed a 30-day trip through Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar. Initially, Minh planned to travel by motorbike. However, Cúc wanted to ride a bicycle. To please his wife, Minh bought two folding bicycles, then sewed bags to fit the bike to carry through the border gate.

They travelled by coach through cities and countries, when they stopped to visit, they used the bicycles to move around.

Wherever they go, they obey their principle of never heading to the next destination after 4pm, to help ensure safety.

“We have a responsibility to ourselves and our families, promising our children that we must go safely to give them peace of mind,” Minh said.

During their journeys, the thing that Minh and his wife feel most fortunate about is that they have never had a serious incident other than their motorbike or car breaking down a few times.

The couple have also had the chances to visit many places in the US and Australia by train and bus when they went to visit relatives.

“We don’t care how many cities and countries we’ve been to. We try to feel and remember the experiences we’ve had together on our journey,” Minh said.

“Since we were students, we have always been together. Now, whether going near or far, I want to take my wife with me. As long as I have her, I know it’s going to be a great trip.” VNS

Source: http://ovietnam.vn/life-in-vietnam/couple-in-seventies-rewrite-travel-rulebook_341184.html

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Spring festival season sees surging visitors with improved safety measures

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FROM ALL OVER: Tourists enjoying spiritual ceremonies at Đông Cuông Temple Festival in the northern province of Yên Bái’s Văn Yên District. VNA/VNS Photo 

 HÀ NỘI — Authorities and experts are reporting a surge in the number of visitors at festivals held across the country, as the country gears up for the festival season after three years of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MoCST) reported on its website that after three years of impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in the halting and reducing scales of many cultural festivals nationwide, this year’s festivity season has returned with a spike in the number of visitors, though safety hasn’t been compromised.

Since the beginning of the season, the ministry has issued many documents requesting localities strengthen management and organising works for all cultural activities. Local authorities have undertaken sufficient measures to ensure participants in the 2023 Spring Festival season are “safe, joyful and healthy”.

Meanwhile, experts say the Spring Festival Season 2023 of the Year of the Cat is considered as an occasion for the community to reach a ‘boom’ in travelling to enjoy the traditional and cultural celebrations in famous spots, which were halted for long time due to the pandemic.

So far, most of the famous spring festivals have opened, including the Hương (Perfume) Pagoda Festival, Sóc Temple Festival or Cổ Loa Citadel Festival in the North. They have attracted tens of thousands of visitors everyday, with no reports of violations in security and social order.

BACK WITH A BANG: After three years of COVID-19 delays, the festival season has returned this year with a spike in the number of visitors. Photo toquoc.vn

Nguyễn Bá Hiển, head of the Management Board of Hương Sơn tourist site in Hương Sơn Commune, Hà Nội’s suburban Mỹ Đức District, said the Hương Pagoda Festival 2023 was taking place with the theme “An toàn, Văn minh, Thân thiện” (Safe, Civilised, Friendly).

This year, the festival has seen a reform in organisation with ticket sales changed from traditional to the electronic application model.

On the opening day of the festival, which fell on January 6 of the lunar calendar (Friday last week), the festival welcomed more than 40,000 visitors without any congestion, according to the official.

“We print e-invoice tickets and complete a new ticket control system via QR Code at 10 ticket control entrances,” Hiển said.

“A bus service has been piloted to deliver and pick up tourists on three routes. The first route starts from Hội Xá bus station to Yến Vỹ wharf, the second is from Đục Khê bus stop to Đồng Cừ in front of Trình Temple and the third is from Bus station 1 to Tuyết Sơn Pagoda wharf. Congestion has been controlled,” he added.

TIMES ARE CHANGING: The pig sacrifice ritual of the Ném Thượng Festival in Ném Thượng Village, in the northern province of Bắc Ninh, is now performed behind closed doors instead in public on the communal house’s yard. Photo toquoc.vn

Ném Thượng Festival, in Bắc Ninh City’s Ném Thượng Village in the northern province of Bắc Ninh, in the past few years has organised its pig sacrifice ritual behind closed doors instead on the communal house’s yard. The once-controversial practice has changed its way of organising following a direction of the culture ministry and the People’s Committee of Bắc Ninh Province.

Ninh Thị Thu Hương, director of Grassroots Culture Department under the culture ministry, said the department had sent inspection teams to localities since October 2022 to help them boost the organisation and management works in spiritual ceremonies and festivals at heritage sites.

AND THEY’RE OFF: The Gò Thì Thùng traditional horse racing festival in the central province of Phú Yên’s Tuy An District. VNA/VNS Photo Tường Quân

This was instructed in the ministry’s Directive 274 on strengthening State management of local cultural and artistic activities and festivals to protect and promote heritage values as well as restore and develop tourism.

“As has been forecast that the 2023 festival season will see a sudden increase of visitors and contents of activities, the department has worked with some localities which still organised controversial activities in the previous season, such as buffalo fighting in the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc and some others that need to undertake better organising measures, plans, and scenarios so that to have the best results,” said Hương.

In addition, the ministry also asked authorities to enforce inspection before, during and after the festivals, while requiring an improvement in awareness and management among local authorities. VNS

Source: http://ovietnam.vn/events/spring-festival-season-sees-surging-visitors-with-improved-safety-measures_341275.html

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