Farming robots that can move autonomously in an open field or greenhouse promise a cleaner, safer agricultural future. But there are also potential downsides, from the loss of much-needed jobs to the safety of those working alongside the robots. To ensure that the use of autonomous robots on farms creates more benefits than losses, a process of responsible development is required. Society as a whole needs to be involved in setting the trajectories for future farming.
by Sandrine Ceurstemont
Semi-autonomous cars are expected to hit the roads in Europe next year with truck convoys following a few years later. But before different brands can share the roads, vehicle manufacturers need to agree on standards for automated functions.
This week Washington DC was abuzz with news that had nothing to do with the occupant of The While House. A group of progressive legislators, led by Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, in the House of Representatives, introduced “The Green New Deal.” The resolution by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was in response to the alarming Fourth National Climate Assessment and aims to reduce global “greenhouse gas emissions from human sources of 40 to 60 percent from 2010 levels by 2030; and net-zero global emissions by 2050.” While the bill is largely targeting the transportation industry, many proponents suggest that it would be more impactful, and healthier, to curb America’s insatiable appetite for animal agriculture.
A day before snow hindered New York commuters, researchers at the University of Iowa and Princeton identified the growth of urbanization as the leading cause for catastrophic storm damage. Wednesday’s report stated that the $128 billion wake of Hurricane Harvey was 21 times greater due to the population density of Houston, one of America’s fastest growing cities. This startling statistic is even more alarming in light of a recent UN study which reported that 70% of the projected 9.7 billion people in the world will live in urban centers by 2050. Superior urban management is one of the major promises of autonomous systems and smart cities.
By Esther Rolf∗, David Fridovich-Keil∗, and Max Simchowitz
In many tasks in machine learning, it is common to want to answer questions given fixed, pre-collected datasets. In some applications, however, we are not given data a priori; instead, we must collect the data we require to answer the questions of interest.
The cost of sea litter in the EU has been estimated at up to €630 million per year. It is mostly composed of plastics, which take hundreds of years to break down in nature, and has the potential to affect human health through the food chain because plastic waste is eaten by the fish that we consume.
I recently chaired a UJA Tech Talk on “The Future Of Autonomous Cars” with former General Motors Vice-Chairman Steve Girsky. The auto executive enthusiastically shared his vision for the next 15-25 years of driving – a congestion-free world of automated wheeled capsules zipping commuters to and from work.
Many websites paint a very positive picture of the robocar future. And it is positive, but far from perfect. One problem I worry about in the short term is the way robocars are going to make traffic worse before they get a chance to make it better.
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.
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?