We're teaching robots to build their own tools


When the robot revolution comes, the weapons robots use to destroy us could be cobbled together from the scraps of our own society. More realistically, though, researchers like a group at Georgia Tech are trying to figure out how robots can help us in the most dangerous situations, when our own logic may be clouded by stress. Lakshmi Nair, a robotics PhD student and member of the group, told Quartz that the team was inspired by the tribulations of the astronauts aboard Apollo 13, who had to jury-rig together a carbon-monoxide removal system after an oxygen tank exploded on their vessel. Between the astronauts and staff on Earth, it took three days to figure out how to cobble together gear to help the astronauts survive. "When I came across that story, one of the things that struck me was that it took a very long time to come up with that solution," Nair said.

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) vs. AI, explained


The expanding universe of artificial intelligence includes many terms and technologies. That naturally leads to overlap and confusion. AI and machine learning are mentioned together so often that some people – non-technical folks especially – might think they're one and the same. They're related but not actually interchangeable terms: Machine learning is a subset, or a specific discipline, of AI. Start adding other terms and technologies into the mix – deep learning is yet another subset of machine learning, for instance – and the opportunities abound for further misconceptions.

An autonomous vehicle coupled with a robotic laboratory proves its worth


Every drop of seawater contains thousands of cells that can reveal the diversity of life in our ocean. Using a self-contained robotic laboratory and an autonomous underwater vehicle, MBARI scientists and engineers are developing advanced collection techniques that may one day simplify the jobs of biologists and resource managers. A recent study confirms that autonomously collected samples of environmental DNA (eDNA) are equivalent to samples collected by people using traditional, manual methods. A growing body of research indicates that wildlife surveys using eDNA analyses can be as (or more) accurate than simply using traditional methods. As such, eDNA assessments appear to offer a very promising and cost-effective means for monitoring biodiversity, which presents an attractive proposition for researchers as well as resource managers who study ocean ecosystems.

Astro the robot dog kinda sorta looks like a real dog


Astro looks ready for anything. There's a spectrum between cute and creepy when it comes to robot dogs. We've finally discovered some middle ground: Florida Atlantic University's Astro. Astro is a four-legged robodog that responds to voice commands. He can move forward, stop and sit on command and doesn't have the urge to go chase squirrels.

Buster Posey explains why robot umps could call more balls than strike


But it's something being implemented and tested in the baseball world. The independent Atlantic League was the first victim to test the newest technology that includes a real-life umpire still manning his or her duties behind the plate while they wear an earpiece connected to an iPhone. That person would then relay the call from the TrackMan computer system that uses Doppler radar. That's at least how plate umpire Brian deBrauwere executed it back in July as he described it to ESPN. And Giants catcher Buster Posey isn't too sure about this new technology, specifically if these robot umps would call more balls or strikes.

NASA Robots to Compete in Underground Challenge in Mining Tunnels -


Robots are about to go underground -- for a competition anyways. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the branch of the U.S. Department of Defense dedicated to developing new emerging technologies, is holding a challenge intended to develop technology for first responders and the military to map, navigate, and search underground. But the technology developed for the competition could also be used in future NASA missions to caves and lava tubes on other planets. The DARPA Subterranean Challenge Systems Competition will be held August 15 – 22 in mining tunnels under Pittsburgh, and among the robots competing will be an entry from a team led by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) that features wheeled rovers, drones, and climbing robots that can rise on pinball-flipper-shaped treads to scale obstacles. "By investing in this competition, we are investing in our future," Leon Alkalai, manager of the JPL Office of Strategic Planning, said in a statement.

Japanese researchers build robotic tail – video

The Guardian

A team of researchers at Japan's Keio university have built a robotic tail. Dubbed'Arque', the grey one-metre device mimics tails such as those of cheetahs and monkeys, used to keep balance while running and climbing

Black Mirror-like robodog 'Astro' can respond to commands such as 'sit', 'stand' and 'lie down'

Daily Mail - Science & tech

With his 3-D printed doberman-like head, robot dog Astro may look like something out of a Black Mirror episode -- but this clever canine may be our new best friend. Powered by artificial intelligence technology, the metallic mutt can presently respond to simple commands like'sit', 'stand' and'lie down'. However, by training him in thousands of different scenarios, this robot dog is capable of learning new tricks. His developers expect that he will eventually be able to recognise different languages, hand signals, people and other dogs -- and even team up with drones. Astro is intended to help security forces sniff out prohibited items and first responders scour disaster sites -- but he might even find work as a guide dog.

Kyoto temple puts faith in robot priest, drawing praise from Japanese but scorn from Westerners

The Japan Times

KYOTO – A 400-year-old temple is attempting to hot-wire interest in Buddhism with a robotic priest it believes will change the face of the religion -- despite critics comparing the android to "Frankenstein's monster." The android Kannon, based on the Buddhist deity of mercy, preaches sermons at Kodaiji temple in Kyoto, and its human colleagues predict that with artificial intelligence it could one day acquire unlimited wisdom. "This robot will never die; it will just keep updating itself and evolving," said priest Tensho Goto. It can store knowledge forever and limitlessly. "With AI we hope it will grow in wisdom to help people overcome even the most difficult troubles. It's changing Buddhism," he added.

Artificial intelligence can contribute to a safer world – TechCrunch


We all see the headlines nearly every day. Whether primitive (gunpowder) or cutting-edge (unmanned aerial vehicles) in the wrong hands, technology can empower bad actors and put our society at risk, creating a sense of helplessness and frustration. Current approaches to protecting our public venues are not up to the task, and, frankly appear to meet Einstein's definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result." It is time to look past traditional defense technologies and see if newer approaches can tilt the pendulum back in the defender's favor. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play a critical role here, helping to identify, classify and promulgate counteractions on potential threats faster than any security personnel.