NASA's Valkyrie robot holds a little "Star Wars" BB-8. The "Star Wars" robots R2-D2 and BB-8 are the droids that NASA is looking for -- "astromechs" that can help repair spaceships on the fly, a NASA robotics engineer says. Future NASA robots might resemble humanoid droids such as C-3PO and K-2SO from the waist up, but have giant mechanical spidery legs from the waist down, the engineer added in a new piece for the journal Science Robotics. For more than 20 years, NASA has sought to develop robot assistants for astronauts. So far, they have developed three droids.
It's amazing to see what technology can do these days! Satellites provide daily images of almost every location on earth, and computers can be trained to process massive amounts of data generated from them to produce insightful analysis/information. This is just one of the demonstrations of artificial intelligence (AI). AI can go beyond just reading images captured from space, it can help improve lives overall. For urban governance, machine learning and AI are increasingly used to provide near real-time analysis of how cities change in practice – for example, through the conversion of green areas into built-up structures.
Last December, NASA announced that two new exoplanets had been hiding in plain sight among data from the Kepler space telescope. These two new planets weren't discovered by a human, however. Instead, an exoplanet hunting neural network--a type of machine learning algorithm loosely modeled after the human brain--had discovered the planets by finding subtle patterns in the Kepler data that would've been nearly impossible for a human to see. On Thursday, Christopher Shallue, the lead Google engineer behind the exoplanet AI, announced in a blog post that the company was making the algorithm open source. In other words, anyone can download the code and help hunt for exoplanets in Kepler data.
Mankind's first home away from Earth may soon be located, thanks to the findings of an AI that can scour the moon to find new craters. Experts say that a future lunar base could be set up in one of the giant impact sites, protecting colonists from dangerous solar radiation. Now, a piece of computer software has been developed that was able to uncover almost 7,000 previously undiscovered craters in a matter of hours. The finding was made by a team of researchers led by Ari Silburt at Penn State University and Mohamad Ali-Dib at the University of Toronto. They fed 90,000 images of the moon's surface into an artificial neural network (ANN).
According to the government, a quarter of all telecoms satellites are "substantially built" in the UK. It hopes that with local launch capabilities, Britain can become a "one-stop shop" at the forefront of the burgeoning private space industry; not to mention the opportunities it could grant researchers and the public sector ("using satellite data and machine learning technology to support the roll out of charging points for electric vehicles," for example). There are several potential spaceport locations still under consideration, and the government has earmarked £10 million in funding that'll go towards breaking ground and complementary projects. Should a UK spaceport become a reality in the next few years, it would be the first in Europe. The European Space Agency (ESA) does have one of its own, but that's situated in the South American country of French Guiana.
A new deep-learning algorithm studies aerial photographs after fires to identify damage. How it works: From satellite images taken before and after the California wildfires of 2017, researchers created a data set of buildings that were either damaged or left unscathed. The results: They tweaked a pre-trained ImageNet neural network and got it to spot damaged buildings with an accuracy of up to 85 percent. Why it matters: After a disaster, pinpointing the hardest-hit areas could save lives and help with relief efforts. The researchers also released the data set to the public, which could improve other research that requires satellite images, like conservation and developmental aid work.
'Virtual reality' and'cognitive computing' have become the trends to watch in the tech industry in recent years. In many ways, the excitement makes sense. The world around us continues to converge and become infinitely more connected, driven largely by the ability for businesses to sort, analyze, and action on the vast amounts of data that are being generated everyday. This, paired with a new generation of inexpensive VR headsets have sparked a flurry of renewed interest for gamers, just as'thinking' computers like IBM's Watson have literally stolen the show while schooling human opponents on Jeopardy. However, thanks to a recent slate of research by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), these two technologies are poised to help us travel far beyond the bounds of Earth.
Whether or not virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa actually make our lives better is debatable to say the least. Is navigating the myriad of voice cues really faster or more convenient than just tapping on your smartphone screen a few times? Whichever side of the issue you fall on, it's clear that AI is here to stay, so the European Space Agency is planning to embrace it with a fancy virtual assistant of its own and it's headed to the International Space Station this year. The new AI is the product of a partnership between Airbus and IBM and it's called the Crew Interactive Mobile Companion. That's not a terribly catchy name, so they just call it CIMON (pronounced "Simon," I assume) for short and it'll be put through its paces by astronaut Alexander Gerst.