Several people who own Amazon's Echo speakers have reported a strange bug: the Alexa voice assistant has been laughing for no reason. Some users on Twitter and Reddit say the outbursts have been entirely spontaneous. Others have said that Alexa has laughed after being asked to turn on the lights -- and may have misheard the command. "Having an office conversation about pretty confidential stuff and Alexa just laughed," Twitter user @DavidSven wrote recently. "Anybody else ever have that?
The great promise of self-driving cars is that they will save innumerable lives by removing the most fallible and unpredictable element from vehicle traffic: the human. But in San Francisco at least, fickle human behavior is taking a stand. Two of the six collisions involving autonomous vehicles in California so far this year involved humans colliding with self-driving cars, apparently on purpose, according to incident reports collected by the California department of motor vehicles. On 10 January, a pedestrian in San Francisco's Mission District ran across the street to confront a GM Cruise autonomous vehicle that was waiting for people to cross the road, according to an incident report filed by the car company. The pedestrian was "shouting", the report states, and "struck the left side of the Cruise AV's rear bumper and hatch with his entire body".
To counter the threats posed by small drones, the U.S. military may have to rapidly step up its R&D timeframes, according to a new report commissioned by the U.S. Army. Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUASs) have become increasingly affordable and sophisticated. With millions of these drones now available worldwide, "It's become very easy for an adversary to use them in nefarious ways," says Albert Sciarretta, chair of the committee behind the new study and president of CNS Technologies in Springfield, Virginia. The U.S. Army asked for a detailed report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that analyzes potential risks from these devices, especially to dismounted infantry (that is, foot soldiers) and lightly armored vehicles. For example, hobby drones could be fitted with lethal weapons such as explosive, chemical, biological, or radiological payloads--or modified to jam military radio signals, Sciarretta says.
To counter the threats posed by small drones, the U.S. military may have to rapidly step up its R&D timeframes, according to a new report commissioned by the U.S. Army. Small unmanned aircraft systems (sUASs) have become increasingly affordable and sophisticated. The U.S. Army asked for a detailed report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that analyzes potential risks from these devices, especially to dismounted infantry (that is, foot soldiers) and lightly armored vehicles. For example, hobby drones could be fitted with lethal weapons such as explosive, chemical, biological, or radiological payloads--or modified to jam military radio signals, Sciarretta says. The risks that modified hobby drones pose are not just hypothetical scenarios, the study notes.
A burger-flipping robot that doesn't require a paycheck or benefits -- and can grill 150 burgers per hour -- is now a cook at CaliBurger. The robot, or more specifically, a specialized industrial six-axis robotic arm bolted to the kitchen floor, works lunchtime shifts at the international burger chain's Pasadena, Calif., location. It takes burger orders through a digital ticketing system, then flips the burger patties and removes them from the grill. It uses thermal and regular vision, as well as cameras, to detect when the raw meat is placed on the grill, then monitors each burger throughout its cooking process. But those worried about a robot takeover of food-industry jobs can find comfort in knowing that Flippy still needs a human guide to place the patties on the grill.
Some Amazon Alexa users were met with deafening silence Friday, with the voice-controlled digital assistant going down across the U.S. According to Downdetector.com, a website that monitors technology outages and service interruptions, issues with Alexa began after 9:30 a.m. Users reported issues with Alexa's voice recognition service on either Amazon Echo devices or third party electronics that run Alexa, reports The Verge. However, users were able to access the digital assistant through Alexa app, notes TechCrunch. The outage appears to be impacting fewer people than earlier in the day, according to Downdetector.com. However, those with mute virtual assistants have been forced to perform mundane tasks like turn on lights, look up the weather, play music, or call friends the old-fashioned way.
How many test miles is enough to build a better driver? Waymo has 5 million on-road autonomous test miles and 5 billion simulated miles, and the number keeps rising. Sometime this year Waymo, Alphabet Inc.'s prized driverless car bet, starts a first of its kind revenue-generating robo-taxi service in Phoenix. Ahead of that the unit is maintaining a steady cadence of news underscoring how mature the former Google Self-Driving Car project is – including how big a lead it has over rivals in test miles. Waymo this week said its test fleet has logged 5 million miles driving in autonomous mode on public roads.
The robot arm hovers over a pile of products before it makes its move, snagging a toothbrush with its suction cup. It holds the product up, waits for the red flash of a barcode scanner, then turns and drops the toothbrush in a cubby hole. Next the arm suction-cups a box of Goldfish crackers, turns, and files it, too. At a startup called Kindred in San Francisco, technicians are teaching robots how to precisely manipulate objects like these. Because somebody's got one hell of an online shopping habit.
The companion robot market will be an estimated $34.1 billion by 2022 according to a 2017 research report by P&S Market Research. The same report noted that global aging population has driven personal robots markets in developed regions. With a growing emphasis on personalized healthcare and better engagement with consumers through technology including customer healthcare apps and augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver more effective and cost-efficient digital therapeutics, a healthcare companion robot could become another tool in the intelligent healthcare market. Both companies are early-stage startups. Investors include Stanley Ventures (the venture arm of Stanley Black & Decker), Bioadvance, Hikma Ventures (the venture arm of Hikma Pharmaceuticals) and Thompson Family Foundation.