news    views    talk    learn    |    about    contribute     republish     crowdfunding     archives     events

Views

expert opinions

This week’s news is preliminary, but a U.S. house committee panel passed some new federal regulations which suggest sweeping change in the US regulatory approach to robocars.

by   -   July 19, 2017

After much uproar, media attention, and political pressure, Pres. Trump intervened and enabled all the teams headed to Washington, DC for the F.I.R.S.T Global Robotics Championship, whose visas had been held up or denied, to get their visas. Some visas were received as late as two days before the event. Although the Afghan team got all the press, the team from Gambia was also denied when they first applied.

In San Francisco, I’m just back from the annual Automated Vehicle Symposium, co-hosted by the AUVSI (a commercial unmanned vehicle organization) and the Transportation Research Board, a government/academic research organization. It’s an odd mix of business and research, but also the oldest self-driving car conference. I’ve been at every one, from the tiny one with perhaps 100-200 people to this one with 1,400 that fills a large ballroom.

The Association for Advancing Automation (A3) cites that between 2010 and 2016, 136,748 robots were shipped to the US —the most in any seven-year period in the US robotics industry. At the same time, US manufacturing employment increased by 894,000 and the unemployment rate fell from 9.8% to 4.7%.

By Christoph Salge, Marie Curie Global Fellow, University of Hertfordshire

How do you stop a robot from hurting people? Many existing robots, such as those assembling cars in factories, shut down immediately when a human comes near. But this quick fix wouldn’t work for something like a self-driving car that might have to move to avoid a collision, or a care robot that might need to catch an old person if they fall. With robots set to become our servants, companions and co-workers, we need to deal with the increasingly complex situations this will create and the ethical and safety questions this will raise.

by   -   July 16, 2017

Jim Robinson of RRE Ventures said it best last month at the Silicon Dragon Conference when comparing Silicon Valley to New York, “There are two kinds of centers that have a lot of startups and technology, there are technology centers and commerce centers.” New York falls into the later category, while the Valley is the former. Sitting next to Jim, I reflected that Singapore might be in both groups, an Asian commerce hub and a leader in mechatronics. As an advocate for automation, I am often disheartened that the United States significantly lags behind its industrial counterparts in manufacturing autonomous machines. The key to a pro-job policy could be gleaning from the successes of countries like Singapore to implement America’s own ‘Robot First Plan.’

Here are the slides I gave recently as member of panel Sci-Fi Dreams: How visions of the future are shaping the development of intelligent technology, at the Centre for the Future of Intelligence 2017 conference. I presented three short stories about robot stories.

by   -   July 13, 2017
Source: Getty Images

SoftBank’s Pepper humanoid robot operation (a joint venture with Foxconn, Alibaba and SoftBank) has incurred a big $274 million loss while Asia more than doubled the amount of funding for tech startups thus far in 2017. No one ever said VC funding was for the faint of heart.

by   -   July 11, 2017

Two reputable research resources are reporting that the robotics industry is growing more rapidly than expected. BCG (Boston Consulting Group) is conservatively projecting that the market will reach $87 billion by 2025; Tractica, incorporating the robotic and AI elements of the emerging self-driving industry, is forecasting the market will reach $237 billion by 2022.

by   -   July 9, 2017

In the race to develop self-driving technology, Chinese Internet giant Baidu unveiled its 50+ partners in an open source development program, revised its timeline for introducing autonomous driving capabilities on open city roads, described the Project Apollo consortium and its goals, and declared Apollo to be the ‘Android of the autonomous driving industry’.

China’s second-biggest e-commerce company, JD.com (Alibaba is first), is testing mobile robots to make deliveries to its customers, and imagining a future with fully unmanned logistics systems.

by   -   July 3, 2017

UPDATED 7/4/2017: Added acquisition of OC Robotics by GE Aviation.

June, 2017 saw two robotics-related companies get $50 million each and 17 others raised $248 million for a monthly total of $348 million. Acquisitions also continued to be substantial with SoftBank's acquisition of Google's robotic properties Boston Dynamics and Schaft plus two others acquisitions.

I’ve written a few times that perhaps the biggest unsolved problem in robocars is how to know we have made them safe enough. While most people think of that in terms of government certification, the truth is that the teams building the cars are very focused on this, and know more about it than any regulator, but they still don’t know enough. The challenge is going to be convincing your board of directors that the car is safe enough to release, for if it is not, it could ruin the company that releases it, at least if it’s a big company with a reputation.

by   -   June 26, 2017
Credit: Aurora Flight Sciences.

DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is researching autonomous co-piloting so they can fly without a human pilot on board. The robotic system — called the Common Aircraft Retrofit for Novel Autonomous Control (CARNAC) (not to be confused with the old Johnny Carson Carnac routine) — has the potential to reduce costs, enable new missions, and improve performance.

Advances in robotics and AI have led to modern commercial drone technology, which is changing the fundamental way enterprises interact with the world. Drones bridge the physical and digital worlds. They enable companies to combine the power of scalable computing resources with pervasive, affordable sensors that can go anywhere. This creates an environment in which businesses can make quick, accurate decisions based on enormous datasets derived from the physical world.



Robot Academy
July 22, 2017


Are you planning to crowdfund your robot startup?

Need help spreading the word?

Join the Robohub crowdfunding page and increase the visibility of your campaign