Swarms of drones will help farmers map weeds in their fields and improve crop yields. This is the promise of an ECHORD++ funded research project called ‘SAGA: Swarm Robotics for Agricultural Applications’. The project will deliver a swarm of drones programmed to monitor a field and, via on-board machine vision, precisely map the presence of weeds among crops.
Additionally, the drones attract each another at weed-infested areas, allowing them to inspect only those areas accurately, similar to how swarms of bees forage the most profitable flower patches. In this way, the planning of weed control activities can be limited to high-priority areas, generating savings at the same time as increasing productivity.
Sarah Hensley is preparing an astronaut named Valkyrie for a mission to Mars. It is 6 feet tall, weighs 300 pounds, and is equipped with an extended chest cavity that makes it look distinctly female. Hensley spends much of her time this semester analyzing the movements of one of Valkyrie’s arms.
In Darmstadt, Germany, European Space Agency (ESA) teams are scrambling to confirm contact with the Entry, Descent and Landing Demonstrator Module (EDM), Schiaparelli—the spectre of Philae still haunting the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC). Whether or not ESA ever speak to Schiaparelli again, the risky business of space robotics is once more laid bare.
You may be surprised, but I’m not. These are the people I see regularly both in Silicon Valley and overseas interacting with the robotics community. That makes them the smart money (most of the time). According to CB Insights, the 7 most active robotics investors over the last 5 years are: Eclipse Ventures, High-Tech Gründerfonds, Lux, Intel Capital, Sequoia China, CRV, and Visionaire Ventures.
As CB Insights demonstrates, old school ‘smart money’ is still making investments in robotics — just at a slower pace. Overall, the last 5 years has seen an increase in global robotics equity funding to $2.6 billion in 405 deals.
When President Barack Obama agreed to guest-edit the November issue of WIRED, he selected MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito for an exchange of ideas about artificial intelligence (AI). Their recent interview at the White House is featured in the latest online issue of WIRED, published on Oct. 12.
The one-on-one conversation, moderated by WIRED Editor-in-Chief Scott Dadich, ran the gamut of topics at the intersection of societal needs, ethics, and technology — from cybersecurity to self-driving cars; from the roles of government, industry, and academia to the lack of diversity in tech; from “moonshot” motivations to innovation at the margins; and from neurodiversity to Star Trek. All this was covered in the context of AI and extended intelligence (EI), which uses machine learning to augment human capabilities.
While the future of artificial intelligence is probably going to be driven by Silicon Valley, the folks in Washington DC want their say about how it will work, too.
In two reports, the White House outlined its strategy for promoting artificial intelligence research and development in the US. While most of the bigger questions were punted to future legislators (“more research is needed” is a key phrase), the executive branch did draw some lines in the sand. And most importantly to the research community, the White House is not pushing for AI to be broadly regulated—instead, the use of the technology will be held to specific standards in the automotive, aviation, and finance industries.
Robotics has always been an interdisciplinary field – one that integrates knowledge from computer science, mechanical, electrical, controls, and other areas of engineering. But as robots move out of factories and research labs, and into our homes and workplaces, another breed of robotics expert is emerging – and an engineering or computer science degree is not necessarily part of their resume.
Oxbotica, a UK technology company with a focus on mobile robotics and driverless vehicles, has created Selenium, an autonomous software system acting similar to a ‘brain’ for a vehicle. Selenium can work in pedestrianised environments as well as roads and motorways, and is not reliant on GPS to operate – meaning it can transition between indoor and outdoor settings, overground or underground. The system has been developed to be “vehicle agnostic” and can be applied to cars, self-driving pods (e.g. for campuses and airports), and warehouse truck fleets.
Silicon Valley Robotics held an innovation tour for some of our global partners ahead of the RoboBusiness conference in San Jose. Representatives from Odense Robotics Cluster, Invest in Denmark and Denmark Innovation Center joined up with Sumitomi Mitsui Bank, Siemens, A3/RIA, Robotics Hub and the Office of Science and Technology Policy for a ’round the Bay’ innovation tour.