“The sheer density of the rainforests in Australia's far-north creates a slight problem for local conservationists. With incursions by invasive plants posing a threat to the native flora, inaccessibility for people makes it a difficult and time-consuming task to monitor the region. Now researchers from the CSIRO have developed two mini helicopters capable of hunting down the dangerous weeds from the air, significantly reducing the resources needed to preserve local plant life.”
“Google has created what it calls a "Matrix-style," virtual version of California's road system that it's been using to test self-driving cars before sending them out onto the actual road, according to the Guardian. Google is apparently so thrilled with its simulation that it asked California's government earlier this year, in a letter obtained by the Guardian, whether it could use these virtual simulations in place of actual driving tests when certifying a vehicle for public road tests — and it seems that it may be able to.”
“MIT researchers have come up with a two-pronged approach that significantly reduces the computation associated with lengthy delivery missions. The team first developed an algorithm that enables a drone to monitor aspects of its “health” in real time. With the algorithm, a drone can predict its fuel level and the condition of its propellers, cameras, and other sensors throughout a mission, and take proactive measures — for example, rerouting to a charging station — if needed.”
"New research coming out of MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) suggests that letting robots have control over human tasks in manufacturing is not just more efficient — it’s actually preferred by workers."
John Payne's insight:
At a guess, I'd say this would be true because it frees the human workers from thinking about time/motion efficiencies while doing work requiring detailed motor skills.
“Earlier this month, a storied, and highly reputable research think tank released an unprecedented work of speculative fiction. Officially, the Pew Research Center’s “AI, Robotics, and the Future of Jobs” is a report, the result of a survey of some 2000 technology experts on the topic of how automation will impact the economy by 2025. But the responses are pure techno-divination, many of them revealing how profoundly difficult it is to talk about robots, without making irrational, unsupported assumptions.”
“Gartner believes that most emerging technologies go through a natural process in which they are triggered by some innovation, then they rise to a peak of inflated expectations. As the technologies mature, markets generally become disillusioned by them, before they start to become mainstream and just part of everyday technology.”
The Gimball drone is surrounded by a spherical cage that separates its propellers from objects and people, allowing it to utilize insect-like flight methods such as bumping into things to adjust its trajectory. This makes it both safe and super easy to pilot. Doc North drops into Lasanne, Switzerland to talk to its creators in the lab where it was developed.
"Robots created by a team working at the University of California, Santa Barbara are able to look through solid walls using just Wi-Fi signals. With potential applications in search and rescue, surveillance, detection and archeology, these robots have the capability to identify the position and outline of unseen objects within a scanned structure, and then categorize their composition as metal, timber, or flesh."
“There’s a robot making its way across Canada right now. It’s not very advanced — just a Nexus tablet attached to an Arduino, really. Yet it’s already made its way from Halifax to Toronto in about a week, and stands a good chance of making it to British Columbia before long. That’s because its most powerful feature is its cuteness.”
“NASA announced the selected Mars 2020 rover instruments Thursday at the agency's headquarters in Washington. Managers made the selections out of 58 proposals received in January from researchers and engineers worldwide. Proposals received were twice the usual number submitted for instrument competitions in the recent past.”
One of the newest 4-H projects to hit the streets in recent times has met with great success and excitement. And why not? It offers individual development, opportunities to work as a member of a team, involvement with technology, experiences with problem solving, competition, travel AND it is attractive to adolescents. What is this magical project called? 4-H Robotics!
“The [human] World Cup may have finished a few weeks ago, but there was another one played in Brazil just last week. The annual RoboCup competition was held in João Pessoa, including the robot soccer World Cup.”
“Car manufacturers have been using stationary robots to help build their products for years, but airplanes are constructed differently, posing challenges to the use of robotics. ... Trying to squeeze into small enclosed areas, carrying out highly repetitive tasks, retiring with back injuries even while your expertise is needed: these everyday realities of working in aviation construction may become a thing of the past.”
“The laws governing drone use in the US right now are relatively black and white. For the most part, you either can fly, or you can't — and there's no in between. That's really limiting for the parties that can't, and, at the same time, it's really permissive for the parties that can, giving them little guidance as to where they should and shouldn't be flying.”
“Robo Brain isn’t exactly feasting on the internet. That implies a level of choice, or agency. What’s happening to Robo Brain is closer to force-feeding, as researchers from four different universities regularly cram its cloud-based computational system with data collected from the internet. So far, it has digested roughly 120,000 YouTube videos, a million documents, and a billion images.”
“The way this would work is one customer may set the car (which he paid for) to jealously value his life over all others; another user may prefer that the car values all lives the same and minimizes harm overall; yet another may want to minimize legal liability and costs for herself; and other settings are possible.”
“The HexHog is a six-wheeled electric ATV (or all terrain vehicle) designed for wheelchair users. It can tackle very rough terrain at a top speed of 8.5 mph (13.6 km/h) and has a range of around 8 to 12 miles (13 to 19 km), depending on terrain.”
“A team of scientists at Cornell University and IBM Research have gotten together to design a chip that's fundamentally different: an asynchronous collection of thousands of small processing cores, each capable of the erratic spikes of activity and complicated connections that are typical of neural behavior.”
Experts envision automation and intelligent digital agents permeating vast areas of our work and personal lives by 2025, but they are divided on whether these advances will displace more jobs than they create.
John Payne's insight:
This article presents the robotics-related results from Pew's 2014 Future of the Internet canvassing.
“Researchers from the University of North Texas (UNT) have demonstrated an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) capable of supplying Wi-Fi to disaster-struck areas with a range of up to 5 km (3.1 miles). The team says these figures represent a marked improvement on existing solutions and could lead to new forms of wireless communication.”
“The Pacific territory of Palau earlier this year declared no commercial fishing would take place in its 200 nautical mile Exclusive Economic Zone. … The country currently uses a Cessna Skymaster, and has also explored the use of unmanned drones, to patrol the fishing zone which is roughly the size of France. … Todd Kleperis of Liquid Robotics International says the wave and solar powered skimmer is a much cheaper option.”
“The autonomous K-MAX robocopters were originally scheduled to spend just six weeks in Afghanistan undergoing evaluation as they delivered pallets of cargo to remote bases. But the robots did such a fantastic job that their contract with the Marine Corps was extended indefinitely. It only ended (after nearly three years) because the Marines require less logistical support now. ”
“If constraints on power, communication, or computation mean that the robots can’t pool their data at one location, how can they collectively build a model? … At the Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence conference in July, researchers from MIT’s Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems will answer that question. They present an algorithm in which distributed agents — such as robots exploring a building — collect data and analyze it independently. Pairs of agents, such as robots passing each other in the hall, then exchange analyses.”