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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.

File 20170609 4841 73vkw2
A subject plays a computer game as part of a neural security experiment at the University of Washington.
Patrick Bennett, CC BY-ND

By Eran Klein, University of Washington and Katherine Pratt, University of Washington

 

In the 1995 film “Batman Forever,” the Riddler used 3-D television to secretly access viewers’ most personal thoughts in his hunt for Batman’s true identity. By 2011, the metrics company Nielsen had acquired Neurofocus and had created a “consumer neuroscience” division that uses integrated conscious and unconscious data to track customer decision-making habits. What was once a nefarious scheme in a Hollywood blockbuster seems poised to become a reality.

by   -   June 20, 2017

Conferences and trade shows, held in interesting locations around the world, can be entertaining, informative and an opportunity to explore new places, meet new people and renew acquaintances. Three recent examples: Xponential, the mostly defense-related unmanned land, sea and air show, held in Dallas; Innorobo, focused on service robotics, in Paris; and ICRA, the IEEE’s premier robotics conference, in Singapore.

by   -   June 20, 2017

Judging by the frequency that self-driving cars are mentioned in scientific discussions and the media, they are not only the next big thing, but might actually take over as our main means of transportation. Traditional industries like the railways, on the other hand, seem to have lost that race already. But what if new technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices and Artificial Intelligence (AI), were not only used to create new transportation modes, but to transform old ones as well?

While very few details have come out, Reuters reports that new proposed congressional bills on self-driving cars will reverse many of the provisions I critiqued in the NHTSA regulations last year.

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Tensegrity Control
August 18, 2017


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