Passengers have been carried across London by the first self-driving train on a mainline railway in the UK. Govia Thameslink Railway promised that it would not spell the beginning of the end for drivers, who remain responsible for safety and can take control of the train at any time. Automated operation using a new digital signalling system will allow many more trains to pass through the congested tracks between St Pancras and Blackfriars in central London, giving space for an additional 60,000 passengers to commute at peak hours daily. After almost 18 months of testing, the first commuter train in automatic operation was Monday's 9.46am Thameslink service from Peterborough to Horsham. Shortly after 11.08am, the driver, Howard Weir, pressed the yellow button in the cab that allowed the train's computer to do the driving between St Pancras and Blackfriars.
If you were to ask someone to name a new technology that emerged from MIT in the 21st century, there's a good chance they would name the robotic cheetah. Developed by the MIT Department of Mechanical Engineering's Biomimetic Robotics Lab under the direction of Associate Professor Sangbae Kim, the quadruped MIT Cheetah has made headlines for its dynamic legged gait, speed, jumping ability, and biomimetic design. The dog-sized Cheetah II can run on four articulated legs at up to 6.4 meters per second, make mild running turns, and leap to a height of 60 centimeters. The robot can also autonomously determine how to avoid or jump over obstacles. Kim is now developing a third-generation robot, the Cheetah III.
Google's machine-learning tool is being used to detect and combat illegal deforestation The news: Rainforest Connection, a San Francisco nonprofit, has developed a cheap, rigorous acoustic monitoring system made from modified cell phones and solar panels. An app on the so-called Guardian devices, which can be hidden in trees throughout forests, continuously listens for the telltale signs of illegal logging and animal poaching. On March 21, the organization announced that it will be using Google's TensorFlow, a free tool that makes it simpler for other companies and groups to develop machine-learning software (see "Google stakes its future on a piece of software"). Rainforest Connection says it will enable the organization to more accurately detect troubling sounds in the uploaded audio, such as chainsaws, vehicles, and gunshots. Deforestation reduces biodiversity, increases erosion, and promotes desertification.
Mike Chen was working on a health care start-up, he and his colleagues had one of those light bulb moments regarding digital assistance. "There should be something where you can just text it, and it just, like, does it for you," he said. Three years later, his remote personal-assistant company, Magic, has employees in the United States and the Philippines. Its promise is bold: to do "anything" for customers who send requests over text or email, Mr. Chen said, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. Fin, another new virtual personal-assistant company, is the brainchild of Sam Lessin and Andrew Kortina, a founder of the popular mobile payment service Venmo.
Cars that can drive themselves have already logged millions of miles, but with a driver poised to take over if needed. Waymo, a branch of Alphabet, the parent company of Google, is offering commuters in Phoenix the ability to hail a Chrysler minivan without anyone behind the wheel. Audi expects to begin selling a version of its A8 sedan that can take over completely in traffic jams and similar situations. And next year, General Motors Co. has promised to put robot taxis into service. Decades in the making, the driverless dream holds the promise of drastically reducing deaths on the highway.
At the THINK 2018 conference, IBM announced Watson Assistant, a new addition to its cognitive computing platform. This service enables developers to build digital assistants that can interact through conversational user experience. Watson Assistant is not entirely new to developers familiar with IBM Cloud. It's an enhancement to an existing service called Conversation. In its improved version, the API supports newer conversational flow combined with natural language understanding.
Around the world, vehicles kill more people than HIV/AIDS – about 1.3 million each year. In the vast majority of cases, it is the inattentive and error-prone humans operating those cars and lorries who are at fault. Pedestrian Elaine Herzberg died after being struck by an autonomous Uber car on Sunday as she crossed a road – the first time that a self-driving vehicle has claimed the life of another road user.