Robots


Tiny flying robots, rocket engines, and a cameo by Mark Hamill: Inside Jeff Bezos' Mars conference

Daily Mail

That is, if you were fortunate enough to get an invite. While last year's invite-only conference, held in southern California's Palm Springs, produced striking images of Bezos strolling with a robotic dog designed by Boston Dynamics, the CEO this time took to the stage with a flying robo-dragonfly. Much of this year's buzz, however, has come straight from the stars; among the attendees is actor Mark Hamill, who portrayed'Star Wars' protagonists'Luke Skywalker' in the films' original trilogy. Bezos demonstrated a robotic dragon fly on stage that circled around his head. As Hamill, who recently revived Skywalker for the latest iteration of the Star Wars franchise, mingled with guests, the conference's other attendees showcased their newest and most exciting revelations in the fields of robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more.


Simple cell-like robots join together in large groups to transport objects

Daily Mail

Scientists have succeeded in creating simple cell-like robots that join together in large groups, move in a coordinated fashion and transport objects. They are able to coordinate their movements, transport objects and even respond to light. Scientists call them'particle robots' but even their creators admit they share similarities with the'grey goo' that prompted a famous warning from the Prince of Wales. Grey goo is a hypothetical end-of-the-world scenario involving molecular nanotechnology in which self-replicating robots consume all biomass on Earth. Scientists have succeeded in creating simple cell-like robots that join together in large groups, move in a coordinated fashion and transport objects.


Scientists develop Terminator-style stretchable liquid metal

Daily Mail

A new host of liquid metals that have applications towards soft robotics are making movies like'The Terminator' transcend make-believe. According to researchers, experimental liquid metals like gallium and other alloys, when supplemented with nickel or iron, are able to flex and mold into shapes with the use of magnets, much like the iconic movie villain, T-1000 from'The Terminator 2: Judgement Day.' While other such metals have been developed, they contended with two major drawbacks. A new host of liquid metals that have applications towards soft robotics are making movies like'The Terminator' transcend make-believe toward real life. Researchers say experimental liquid metals like gallium and other alloys, when supplemented with nickel or iron, are able to flex and mold into shapes with the use of magnets. A new material revealed by the American Chemical Society solves to major problems experienced by similar substances.


Law of attraction: Particle robot proves many hands do light work

ZDNet

In physics, particles are small localized objects with physical characteristics like mass or volume. From those humble ingredients, our virtually limitless universe is built. So it seems it was a mix of humility and pride that prompted researchers at MIT, Columbia, Cornell, and Harvard to name the robots in their novel new cooperative robotic system "particles." The concept, presented in an article in the journal Nature, is that a cooperative system of small robots might be able to do complex work, even if no single component in the system is computationally complex. It's the theory at the heart of a branch of automation called swarm robotics.


"Particle robot" works as a cluster of simple units

MIT News

Taking a cue from biological cells, researchers from MIT, Columbia University, and elsewhere have developed computationally simple robots that connect in large groups to move around, transport objects, and complete other tasks. This so-called "particle robotics" system -- based on a project by MIT, Columbia Engineering, Cornell University, and Harvard University researchers -- comprises many individual disc-shaped units, which the researchers call "particles." The particles are loosely connected by magnets around their perimeters, and each unit can only do two things: expand and contract. That motion, when carefully timed, allows the individual particles to push and pull one another in coordinated movement. On-board sensors enable the cluster to gravitate toward light sources.


New York City will have a self-driving shuttle — but there's a catch

Mashable

The Brooklyn Navy Yard is getting an autonomous boost. On private roads, a loop shuttle service for ferry passengers will bring riders to the industrial center where 400 businesses operate. Workers can ride in MIT-based company Optimus Ride's self-driving shuttle cars starting later this year. The driverless trips will be part of the first commercial self-driving program in the state. New York and New York City in particular have been hesitant in embracing autonomous technology.


'We apologise for the inconvenience': How MySpace deleted everything uploaded to site between 2003 and 2015

The Independent

Once the most popular website on the planet, MySpace saw its dawdling decline come crashing to a conclusion on Monday, after it admitted that 50 million songs from 14 million artists over 12 years had been wiped from its platform. MySpace may have lost its battle with Facebook to be the world's most popular social network years ago – with Mark Zuckerberg's creation now holding a near-monopoly over its rivals – but MySpace had since pivoted to be a place for musicians to share and promote their work. It helped launch a generation of performers, including Lily Allen and the Arctic Monkeys, but MySpace has now told its users that any music saved to its site between 2003 and 2015 would be impossible to recover. We'll tell you what's true. You can form your own view.


Using Local Experiences for Global Motion Planning

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Sampling-based planners are effective in many real-world applications such as robotics manipulation, navigation, and even protein modeling. However, it is often challenging to generate a collision-free path in environments where key areas are hard to sample. In the absence of any prior information, sampling-based planners are forced to explore uniformly or heuristically, which can lead to degraded performance. One way to improve performance is to use prior knowledge of environments to adapt the sampling strategy to the problem at hand. In this work, we decompose the workspace into local primitives, memorizing local experiences by these primitives in the form of local samplers, and store them in a database. We synthesize an efficient global sampler by retrieving local experiences relevant to the given situation. Our method transfers knowledge effectively between diverse environments that share local primitives and speeds up the performance dramatically. Our results show, in terms of solution time, an improvement of multiple orders of magnitude in two traditionally challenging high-dimensional problems compared to state-of-the-art approaches.


Germany Risks U.S. Backlash If It Hires Chinese Company Huawei For 5G Tech

NPR

Tomorrow, Germany begins auctioning frequencies to build 5G mobile networks. It is both a highly technical event and the center of a geopolitical storm. Like much of Europe, Germany is squeezed between its economic ties to China and its longtime alliance with the U.S. NPR's Joanna Kakissis reports from Berlin. COMPUTER-GENERATED VOICE: To keep your estimated arrival time... JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: 5G will not just allow you to download movies in seconds on your smartphone. Since it's supposed to be up to 1,000 times faster than current mobile speeds, it can handle communication for self-driving cars, for example.


1 Year After Uber's Fatal Crash, Robocars Carry On Quietly

WIRED

In America, 2018 was supposed to be a very big year for self-driving cars. Uber quietly prepped to launch a robo-taxi service. Waymo said riders would be able to catch a driverless ride by year's end. General Motors' Cruise said it would start testing in New York City, the country's traffic chaos capital. Congress was poised to pass legislation that would set broad outlines for federal regulation of the tech.