Sikorsky's Self-Flying Helicopter Hints at the Flying Future


As helicopter flights go, this one was especially boring. We took off, hovered for a bit, and maneuvered around the airport. We flew to a spot about 10 miles away, did some turns and gentle banks, then came back and landed. I've been on more exciting ferris wheels, with views more inspiring than those of rural Connecticut. Still, the flight was impressive for at least one reason: The pilot controlling the 12,000-pound Sikorsky S-76 had never before operated a helicopter.

Video Friday: MIT's Origami Magic-Ball Gripper

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next few months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos. This soft gripper from MIT is based on an origami "magic-ball." It's a "magic-ball gripper," and that hyphen placement is absolutely critical to it functioning appropriately.

Robot valets are parking cars at an airport in France


After a few years of testing its robot valets, Stanley Robotics will officially put its fleet to use at France's Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airport this week. If you plan to park in the robot-lot anytime soon, you'll leave your car in a special garage-like box. One of Stanley's robots will literally pick up your car and deliver it to a spot. When you return, the system will use your flight information to determine when to bring your car back to a box, where you can pick it up and drive off. As the company says, that should mean no waiting or searching the parking lot.

Putting the Artificial into Intelligent Air Traffic Management Training


Your breathing and heartbeat are accelerating and your body temperature is rising. No – you're not peddling on an exercise bike being monitored by your Smart Watch. You're being trained to become an Air Traffic Controller with Thales' TopSky-SimDebrief, facing a screen with a huge number of virtual planes that you must manage. It's so realistic that it helps you learn to deal with not only the mechanics but also the stress that you will face in your day-to-day activities. And, aside from the trainer by your side, that big eye in the Cloud – Artificial Intelligence – is monitoring your every move, catching errors that would previously have gone unnoticed and could cause accidents in the real world.

Bring light into the black box: Making AI decisions explainable


In my previous blog post, I introduced the "four pillars of trust" for automated decisions. The key takeaway was that explainability and transparency refer to the entire analytical process. Here, too, the analytical platform must guarantee transparency. The good news is that algorithms are not that dark. Although we cannot derive easily understandable sets of rules, we can – regardless of the concrete procedure – investigate the decisive factors in the algorithmic decision.

'Neuroflight' drone controller gets a boost from A.I. - Futurity


You are free to share this article under the Attribution 4.0 International license. Machine learning powers a new kind of drone flight controller software, researchers report. After Wil Koch flew a friend's drone for the first time, operating it through "first-person view" where a person wears a headset connected to a video feed streaming live from a camera on the drone, he thought it was amazing. So amazing that he went out that same day and purchased his own system--a video headset, controller, and quadcopter drone, named for the four propellers that power it. "You put the goggles on and they allow you to see live video transmitting from a camera mount on the drone," Koch says.

Commuters to pay for train fare with their face in China: Report


Those catching a train in Shenzhen may soon be able to pay for their fare through facial recognition, with a trial of the technology reportedly under way. It is one of the various technologies backed by the ultra-fast 5G network being tested by the local Shenzhen subway operator, according to the South China Morning Post. The initiative under way at Futian Station sees commuters scan their faces on a tablet-sized screen mounted on the entrance gate. The fare is then automatically deducted from a linked account. According to the report, there are currently 5 million rides per day on the city's network.

Canada grounds Boeing 737 Max 8s after Ethiopia crash, says tracking data similar to doomed Lion Air jet

The Japan Times

HEJERE, ETHIOPIA - Canada joined much of the world in barring the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet from its airspace on Wednesday, saying satellite tracking data show possible but unproven similarities between the Ethiopian Airliner crash that killed 157 people and a previous crash involving the model five months ago. The decision left the U.S. as one of the few remaining countries to allow the planes to keep flying. Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said a comparison of vertical fluctuations found a "similar profile" to the Lion Air crash that killed 187 people in October. Garneau emphasized that the data are not conclusive but crossed a threshold that prompted Canada to bar the Max 8. He said the new information indicated the Ethiopian Airliner jet's automatic system kicked in to force the nose of the aircraft down after computer software determined it was too high.

Future Tense Newsletter: An A.I. Cold War?


This is especially true of the tech sector, where some analysts liken the U.S. and China's heavy strategic investments in cybersecurity, quantum computing, 5G, and artificial intelligence to a digital arms race, one that, because of China's long-term positioning and access to vast amounts of data to train on, that country will win. But Anne-Marie Slaughter argues that when it comes to the world-shifting technology of artificial intelligence, the narrative isn't so simple. She explains why she is putting her money on the United States. Great power conflict isn't the only thing we at Future Tense have been fretting about this week. We've also been looking at digital privacy.

Canada Grounds Boeing 737 Max 8 as America Holds Out, Reaffirms Safety

U.S. News

But U.S. officials have stood by their decision to keep the Boeing aircraft operating. The Federal Aviation Administration released a statement Tuesday that reaffirmed officials' trust in the safety of the jet, saying the aviation authority hasn't found any issues that would trigger an immediate grounding of the aircraft. The statement was released following a Dallas Morning News report that claimed pilots previously alerted U.S. officials about concerns regarding the model's autopilot system. In a separate report, the Times said Boeing's chief executive also personally called President Donald Trump to express his confidence in the jets.