When reviewing 2018's retail landscape, there have certainly been ongoing challenges and opportunities that have pushed the evolution of retail to match the demands of a changing consumer. Mobile technology, speed of service/delivery, and low prices are just the tip of the iceberg. In recent discussions with a variety of retailers and retail analysts in Australia and New Zealand, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are high on everyone's list of toys for the New Year to generate efficiencies across the retail enterprise. The question retailers are asking is whether to build an AI/ML engine themselves or, more probable, turn to a specialised software company already operating in the AI/ML space. Consumers want their product and they want it now -- in their size, flavour, length, shape, brand, weight.
CANBERRA: Five car manufacturers would have level three and four autonomous vehicles available by 2020, rising to 14 by 2022, the Australian National Transport Commission (NTC) said Monday, warning lawmakers must prepare for an autonomous vehicle boom. In a submission to the parliamentary infrastructure and transport committee, the NTC said that there could be between 740,000 and 1.7 million autonomous vehicles on Australian roads by 2020 and 9.5 million by 2030. Michael McCormack, Australia's Deputy Prime Minister (PM), said that the government was working with industry groups to prepare for the rapid rollout. "I want to ensure these new technologies are deployed in a manner which improves safety, productivity, accessibility and liveability for Australians in both urban and regional areas," he told News Corp Australia on Monday. Level three autonomous vehicles are vehicles that can drive themselves but require a driver capable of taking control at all times while level four vehicles can perform all driving functions autonomously with the option of driver control.
Technology is critical for innovation, yet schools struggle to get students interested in this area. Could teaching robotics change this? The Queensland government has just announced plans to make teaching robotics compulsory in its new curriculum – aimed at students from prep through to year 10. Robotics matches the new digital technologies curriculum, strongly supported by the university sector and states, including Victoria. But while, worldwide, there are increasing initiatives such as the Robotics Academy in the US to teach robotics in schools, Australia isn't doing enough to get it taught in schools.
The world's largest robot has been unveiled and it is a completely autonomous railway system. AutoHaul has been developed by a mining firm and is being used to transport iron ore from mines to shipping ports 500 miles away (800 km) in Western Australia. This journey can be completed in just 40 hours, including the loading and dumping of the ferrous cargo. Its deployment is the end result of a project which has so far cost $940 million (£740 million). Rio Tinto, the corporation that built the infrastructure and hardware for the locomotive, says this could be the first step in transforming the firm's 1,000-mile (1,700-kilometre) network connecting 16 iron ore mines and two ports.
Lidar startup Baraja has raised $32 million in a series A round of funding led by Sequoia China and Main Sequence Ventures' CSIRO Innovation Fund, with participation from Blackbird Ventures. Founded out of Sydney, Australia, in 2015, Baraja is one of a number of lidar startups targeting the burgeoning driverless car industry with the necessary smarts to safely navigate busy thoroughfares without human intervention. Lidar technology essentially surveys the environment by beaming out laser-powered light to measure distances. Anyone who has observed the big players in the autonomous vehicle realm, such as Alphabet's Waymo, will have noticed the giant spinning lasers mounted atop the vehicle's roof that rotate to garner a comprehensive view of the environment. These are not only bulky, but expensive -- perhaps prohibitively expensive if self-driving cars are ever to hit mass production.
Tech giants, universities, consultancy firms and a retailer are among Australia's top hirers for artificial intelligence related roles, according to analysis by job-site Indeed. The government's scientific research organisation CSIRO emerged as the top seeker of candidates for AI roles, measured by number of jobs requiring related skills posted to the website this year. In second place was IBM, followed by Zendesk, Culture Amp, Macquarie University, Google, Atlassian and BCG Digital Ventures. The rapid rise of the specialised field is leading to a'skills mismatch' said Indeed's APAC economist Callam Pickering. "That is, the skills in demand from employers are not necessarily the skills possessed by job seekers. This often happens because the skills in demand are rapidly changing, reflecting the needs to adapt to new technologies," he told CIO Australia.
If we learned anything in 2018 it's that algorithms and social platforms are under regulated, can easily be weaponized and that cybersecurity is an accelerating threat. We learned that Huawei, a state sponsored technology company in China is considered a national security risk by the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Germany and maybe Canada and the United Kingdom. We also learned that Google and Microsoft sell their services to the U.S. government, many times against the wishes of their own employees and best ethical judgement. The trend of putting profits over ethics and integrity is very dangerous for humanity. Instead of thinking about the hype of AI, we need to be more skeptical about where AI could be heading us as a civilization.
A drone equipped with a thermal camera is seen in this file photo. CANBERRA, Australia--Robyn McIntyre, who lives on the outskirts of Australia's capital, was in her family room a few months ago when she thought she heard a "chain saw gone ballistic." It was actually a drone on its way to deliver a burrito or coffee as part of a test from Wing, which like Google is a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. One recent day, she said delivery drones flew over her house about 10 times in 2½ hours, making it difficult to focus on working or reading the newspaper. "There's one!" said Ms. McIntyre, 64 years old, drinking tea in her living room on a recent Saturday morning.
Drone operators are being warned about rules for flying after a drone forced the grounding of firefighting aircraft battling a blaze on Tasmania's Bruny Island. Tasmania police said the aircraft had to be grounded because firefighting efforts at Conleys Point, south Bruny, were being hampered by a drone flown in the area, putting community safety at risk. "This is a reminder to all operators of drones to not fly near aircraft at any time," police said. "This puts the safety of people in aircraft at risk and also impacts on the safety of the community." Flying drones near public safety or emergency operations, such as bushfires, can be an offence under Civil Aviation Safety Authority rules.
Kangaroos being hit by cars is one big, very Australian problem. With autonomous vehicles set to operate in Australia in the next few years, a trial in the state of New South Wales aims to figure out how to handle the pesky marsupial on roads. The trial will feature what's claimed to be the world's first driverless ute (what Australians call a pickup truck), which will operate around the town of Dubbo. It'll take around eight months to develop the vehicle, with the on-road trial to go on for a year. The Daily Liberal reports the ute itself is an "off-the-shelf" Toyota Hilux, which will be retrofitted with driverless technology from UK company Conigital.