Alex Bell hates it when the designated bike lane he is pedaling down is blocked. So, too, do many cycling New Yorkers. But Mr. Bell hates it so much that he has tried to do something about it: Three years ago he sued U.P.S., targeting the delivery company's trucks for blocking his bike path, a case he lost that is in its second round of appeals. Now Mr. Bell is trying another tack -- the 30-year-old computer scientist who lives in Harlem has created a prototype of a machine-learning algorithm that studies footage from a traffic camera and tracks precisely how often bike lanes are obstructed by delivery trucks, parked cars and waiting cabs, among other scofflaws. It is a piece of data that transportation advocates said is missing in the largely anecdotal discussion of how well the city's bus and bike lanes do or do not work.
Alex Bell likes to bike around New York City, but he got fed up with how often bike lanes were blocked by delivery trucks and idling cars. So he decided to do something about it, the New York Times reports. Bell is a computer scientist and he developed a machine learning algorithm that can study traffic camera footage and calculate how often bike and bus lanes are blocked by other vehicles. He trained the algorithm with around 2,000 images of different types of vehicles and for bus lanes, he set the system to be able to tell the difference between buses that are allowed to idle at bus stops and other vehicles that aren't. Then, he applied his algorithm to 10 days of publicly available video from a traffic camera in Harlem.
Many people, he said, would be surprised to learn of the training, insurance and regulation required for commercial drone operation with the FAA, including the need to receive clearance to work within certain airspace. For example, Ellsworth Air Force Base and Rapid City Regional Airport create a lot of controlled airspace in the area, he said.
The evolution of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones, is developing at a rapid pace. Not only is the technology progressing, but regulations are being adapted to encourage wider adoption. With the new FAA Part 107 Rules in the USA, users no longer need to have a commercial pilot license to operate a drone and in the UK, the National Air Traffic Control Service (NATS) is laying the foundation for drones to fly beyond their operators' line of sight – due to the development of new technology that can track small unmanned devices at low altitude. The release of applications is also starting to complement a wider variety of industries, inspiring further implementation. UAVs have come a long way since the Kettering Bug, a drone developed during the First World War.
Earlier promises of progress turned out to be premature. The green light could be delayed again if proponents can't overcome nagging security concerns on the part of local or national law-enforcement agencies. Proposed projects also may end up stymied if Federal Aviation Administration managers don't find creative ways around legislative and regulatory restrictions such as those mandating pilot training for manned aircraft. But some proponents of delivery and other drone applications "think they might be ready to operate this summer," Jay Merkle, a senior FAA air-traffic control official, said during a break at an unmanned-aircraft conference in Baltimore last week that highlighted the agency's pro-business approach. At least 10 FAA-approved pilot programs for various drone initiatives--some likely including package delivery--are slated to start by May.
On the 50th anniversary of Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, noted entrepreneur and expansive thinker Elon Musk discussed his fears about artificial intelligence that were more chilling than the cinematic HAL-9000 supercomputer of science fiction. The founder of SpaceX and Tesla, who made a surprise appearance at HBO's Westworld panel at South by Southwest, hosted a impromptu question-and-answer session today at Austin's Moody Theater that was moderated by Westworld creator Jonathan Nolan. Relaxing in a lined brown bomber jacket, Musk held forth on some of his favorite topics, from colonizing Mars to digging tunnels under Los Angeles to lay the infrastructure for high-speed public transportation system that would once-and-for-all solve the commuter nightmare that is the Interstate 405. Musk offered some surprising insights.
The ice hockey fan only wanted to get a quick ride to the next venue, and now he appears to be taking a trip into the future. For two weeks, the unremarkable SUV ferried people between sports venues on a course of about 15 kilometers, traversing roundabouts, mastering pedestrian crossings and bus lanes, stopping at traffic lights and remaining unfazed by fans running across the four-lane road celebrating victories. But even if Ewitt looks at the friendly Hyundai engineer in disbelief as he presses the button usually reserved for cruise control and puts his hands into his lap, the steering wheel turning itself, the journey through the Olympic city is nothing special. Car manufacturers have been demonstrating for years that autopilot systems can master complex situations in city traffic. Take their impressive test route through Las Vegas at the 2017 CES, for example.
Auckland's International Airport has announced the addition of an artificial intelligence bot to assist Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) staff with simple biometric questions. The Virtual Assistant Interface (Vai) is stationed initially in the airport's biosecurity arrivals area for visiting passengers to ask questions that don't require human interaction. Vai has been in operation since last week and is currently in proof-of-concept mode. "The idea is for her to take some of the load off MPI officers during peak times by assisting staff with answering queries," MPI detection technology manager Brett Hickman said in a statement. "This is about using technology to allow officers to focus on their important role of keeping pests and diseases out of New Zealand."
That would enable bystanders to use their smartphones to report misbehaving UAVs, Ford stated in a blog post, noting that they used this method to reliably identify drones up to 80 feet away during testing. While that's not far at all for surveillance drones, it might be close enough for drones endangering airports or driving paths -- though it's unclear how quickly the app could identify fast-moving aircraft. That range could be extended by up to 20 times using commonly-available DSLR lenses, Ford pointed out in the proposal's white paper (PDF). Light-based identification has its own problems, but at least it would be easier to implement than broadcasting by radio, an approach that could require industry standardization. It's a potentially cheap, efficient solution using equipment people already have (like smartphones), and given that consumers once again have to register their drones with the FAA, those 10-digit ID numbers will be more available.