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by   -   February 13, 2017
iRobot Braava jet 240. Source: irobot.com

The International Federation of Robotics forecast that the global market for vacuum cleaning robots, lawn-mowing robots and other household cleaning robots will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 33% through 2019. Other research reports say the market will reach $2.5 billion by 2020 at a CAGR of 15%.

I generally pay very little attention when companies issue a press release about an “alliance.” It’s usually not a lot more than a press release, unless there are details on what will actually be built. The recent announcement that Uber plans to buy some self-driving cars from Daimler/Mercedes is mostly just such an announcement.

California published its summary of all the reports submitted by vendors testing robocars in the state. You can read the individual reports. They are interesting, but several other outlines have created summaries of the reports calculating things like the number of interventions per mile. On these numbers, Google’s lead is extreme. Of over 600,000 autonomous miles driven by the various teams, Google/Waymo was 97% of them — in other words, 30 times as much as everybody else put together.

by   -   February 7, 2017
Lady Gaga performing at Super bowl LI Source: NFL/YouTube

Three hundred drones flashed their colored lights and created a flying American flag as Lady Gaga sang a blend of “God Bless America” and “This Land Is Your Land” to 160 million viewers of the Super Bowl. Oh, and two football teams played into overtime, and the final score was 34 to 28.

Part 2: Autonomous Systems and Transparency

In my previous post I argued that a wide range of AI and Autonomous Systems (from now on I will just use the term AS as shorthand for both) should be regarded as Safety Critical. I include both autonomous software AI systems and hard (embodied) AIs such as robots, drones and driverless cars. Many will be surprised that I include in the soft AI category apparently harmless systems such as search engines. Of course no-one is seriously inconvenienced when Amazon makes a silly book recommendation, but consider very large groups of people. If a truth (such as global warming) is – because of accidental or willful manipulation – presented as false, and that falsehood is believed by a very large number of people, then serious harm to the planet (and we humans who depend on it) could result.

by   -   February 3, 2017

January fundings for robotics-related startups totaled over $123 million – a reasonable start for the new year. For acquisitions, three of the six companies acquired reported that $390.5 million traded hands. All in all, another strong month for robotics.

by   -   February 3, 2017
Cows in stable wait for food from red feeding robot

Let’s assume, for a moment, that the vision I’ve laid out in this blog is ridiculously successful, and, over the next few decades, robotic devices take over all aspects of tending land and crops and handling material inputs and produce, and do it using increasingly sustainable practices that begin the process of retaining and enhancing biological diversity and reviving overworked soils. What’s left for farmers to do? Will there even be a need for humans on farms?

by   -   January 31, 2017

At RoboUniverse in San Diego, agricultural robots and the labor shortage were quickly identified as the biggest issues facing the industry today. Water scarcity and field health were other key issues mentioned, but it’s labor that keeps farmers up at night and robotics that could come to their rescue.

ehang

Earlier I posted my gallery of CES gadgets and included a photo of the eHang 184 from China, a “personal drone” able, in theory, to carry a person up to 100kg.

Whether the eHang is real or not, some version of the personal automated flying vehicle is coming, and it’s not that far away. When I talk about robocars, I am often asked “what about flying cars?” and there will indeed be competition between them. There are a variety of factors that will affect that competition, and many other social effects not yet much discussed.

With machine intelligence emerging as an essential tool in many aspects of modern life, Alan Winfield discusses autonomous sytems, safety and regulation.

by   -   January 25, 2017
Source: CBS Evening News
Source: CBS Evening News

By investing $6 million in robots, Bicycle Corporation of America (BCA) was able to take back 10% of their manufacturing from China and place it into a new factory in Manning, South Carolina employing 140 new workers.

by   -   January 25, 2017

Ladybird

I’ve come around to the view that the best and most inclusive term for high-concept farming which is both sustainably productive and ecologically responsible is Regenerative Agriculture. It implies all that is meant by permaculture, agroecology, carbon farming, and organic farming, but goes beyond these to focus on living matter in the soil, and in this is closely aligned with the term biodynamic. That said, I’m not prepared to argue the point; I only say this by way of explaining why I’ve chosen to use this term here.

Tesla Model S autopilot-software. Source: Tesla
Tesla Model S autopilot-software. Source: Tesla

NHTSA released the report from their Office of Defects Investigation on the fatal Tesla crash in Florida last spring. It’s a report that is surprisingly favorable to Tesla. So much so that even I am surprised.

by   -   January 19, 2017
Image: Wheat Genetics and Germplasm Improvement
Image: Wheat Genetics and Germplasm Improvement

I’ve long believed that Augmented Reality (AR) and robotics are closely related. Both model their environments to some degree. Robotics uses that model to guide the behavior of a machine, whereas AR uses it to provide an enhanced sensory experience to a human.

by   -   January 18, 2017

ARM-logo_1075_422_80_s

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA, the new institute is made up of governments, industry, academia, and non-profit organizations from across the country. Combined they have contributed $173 million that will be fused with $80 million in federal funding.

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Mining Automation
July 12, 2013


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