For a sci-fi fan like me, fascinated by the nature of human intelligence and the possibility of building life-like robots, it’s always interesting to find a new angle on these questions. As a re-imagining of the original 1970s science fiction film set in a cowboy-themed, hyper-real adult theme park populated by robots that look and act like people, Westworld does not disappoint.
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.
The upcoming Robotic Online Short Film Festival (or ROS festival) is a science fiction short film festival planning to focus on robotics related themes. The deadline for submitting short films is November 20, with films on display from December.
It was clear that DJI was winning the drone commoditization war by the end of 2015. Today’s best sellers are mostly DJI products. Other makers (Parrot, 3D Robotics, Autel, Yuneec et al) haven’t been able to capture any significant portion of the camera drone market. Most saw the writing on the wall and began switching to becoming drone service providers in other marketplaces.
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.