Collaborating Authors


Earth Observation data and Artificial Intelligence in support of Journalism


Earth Observation data is valuable for journalist's reports to the public. An example are the maps released in little time during or after the tsunami in Indian Ocean in 2004 or the Fukushima disaster in 2011, accompanying the verbal or text reports of theirs. Taking advantage of the improved temporal frequency and spatial cover of the Sentinel satellite sensors SnapEarth aims to assimilate latest spaceborne retrieved information to support journalists in their work in near real time. In this context, a dedicated services' module aims to leverage on Copernicus monitoring services, like the EMS's (Emergency Management Service) EFAS (European Flood Awareness System) and EFFIS (European Forest Fire Information System). It will add in tandem to them the ability to exploit latest AI (Artificial Intelligence) techniques to automatically and unsupervised query through big data piles to deliver in minimum time required products.

Robots are now helping fight the coronavirus ZDNet


We're now accustomed to seeing robots deployed after natural disasters and in areas of heavy contamination. A robotics team, after all, was the quiet hero of the Fukushima disaster cleanup. Disruptive technologies like robotics and AI are working hard to fight the spread of the virus. In fact, the coronavirus outbreak is bringing renewed attention to an idea many in the robotics sphere have been trumpeting for some time: telemedicine. I reached out to ROBO Global, an index, advisory, and research company in the robotics sphere, for insight.

Delayed probe of Fukushima No. 1 reactor to push back fuel debris removal

The Japan Times

A plan to remove fuel debris from the primary containment vessel of a reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is expected to be further pushed back after it became apparent that Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Ltd. will not be able to conduct an internal probe -- a key step to start removing the fuel debris -- by the end of March as planned. The internal probe would involve using remote-controlled robots to collect fuel debris inside the No. 1 reactor so Tepco can examine its composition and form. Tepco's plan is to open three holes in both the outer and inner doors of the primary containment vessel using pressurized water mixed with a polishing agent. After it succeeded in opening three holes in the outer door, Tepco started drilling a hole in the inner door in June 2019. But that procedure caused the concentration of radioactive dust to increase temporarily, prompting staff to suspend work.

A robot puppet can learn to walk if it's hooked up to human legs


Being virtually hooked up to a human could help robots respond to disasters or other situations that would put human responders' lives at risks. The researchers say that a system like this could be used to help in robotic clean-up operations such as the one after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan in 2011. Humans could have guided robots to navigate around the site more accurately, from a safe distance. And while there's currently no machine learning involved in the process, Ramos believes the data captured from the system could be used to help train autonomous robots.

Paper by "Deep Learning Conspiracy" in Nature


In the context of convolutional neural networks (ConvNets), LBH mention pooling, but not its pioneer (Weng, 1992), who replaced Fukushima's (1979) spatial averaging by max-pooling, today widely used by many, including LBH, who write: "ConvNets were largely forsaken by the mainstream computer-vision and machine-learning communities until the ImageNet competition in 2012," citing Hinton's 2012 paper (Krizhevsky et al., 2012). Earlier, committees of max-pooling ConvNets were accelerated on GPU (Ciresan et al., 2011a), and used to achieve the first superhuman visual pattern recognition in a controlled machine learning competition, namely, the highly visible IJCNN 2011 traffic sign recognition contest in Silicon Valley (relevant for self-driving cars). The system was twice better than humans, and three times better than the nearest non-human competitor (co-authored by LeCun of LBH). It also broke several other machine learning records, and surely was not "forsaken" by the machine-learning community. In fact, the later system (Krizhevsky et al. 2012) was very similar to the earlier 2011 system.

Fukushima Prefecture sets sights on flying cars to boost recovery and local industry

The Japan Times

The Fukushima Prefectural Government is leading a collaborative effort involving companies from different industries and a robotics testing field to invent a flying car. In early August, the research center at the test field began accepting applications for four additional companies. The prefecture is focusing on efforts to attract companies to the site, which remains the only facility in the country where development and testing can all be done at the same site. The prefecture hopes to create synergies among various businesses and local parts suppliers and eventually build one of the country's largest industrial centers in Fukushima. Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori introduced the concept in Tokyo during a conference on flying car development organized by the industry ministry on Aug. 2. The central government is in the process of putting together a plan to build a working flying car by 2023.

Japan offers U.S. its robotics tech for use in denuclearizing North Korea

The Japan Times

Japan has told the United States it is ready to provide its robot technology for use in dismantling nuclear and uranium enrichment facilities in North Korea as Washington and Pyongyang pursue further denuclearization talks, government sources said Friday. As Japan turns to the remotely controlled robots it has developed to decommission reactors crippled by the triple core meltdown in 2011 at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, it believes the same technology can be used in North Korea, according to the sources. The offer is part of Japan's efforts to make its own contribution to the denuclearization talks amid concern that Tokyo could be left out of the loop as the United States and North Korea step up diplomacy. Tokyo has already told Washington it would shoulder part of the costs of any International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of North Korean facilities and dispatch its own nuclear experts to help. The scrapping of nuclear facilities, such as the Yongbyon complex, which has a graphite-moderated reactor, will come into focus in forthcoming working-level talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

Let's Push Things Forward: A Survey on Robot Pushing Artificial Intelligence

We argue that pushing is an essential motion primitive in a robot's manipulative repertoire. Consider, for instance, a household robot reaching for a bottle of milk located in the back of the fridge. Instead of picking up every yoghurt, egg carton, or jam jar obstructing the path to create space, the robot can use gentle pushes to create a corridor to its lactic target. Moving larger obstacles out of the way is even more important to mobile robots in environments as extreme as abandoned mines (Ferguson et al., 2004), the moon (King, 2016), or for rescue missions as for the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. In order to save cost, space, or reduce payload, such robots are often not equipped with grippers, meaning that prehensile manipulation is not an option. Even in the presence of grippers, objects may be too large or too heavy to grasp. In addition to the considered scenarios, pushing has numerous beneficial applications that come to mind less easily. For instance, pushing is effective at manipulating objects under uncertainty (Brost, 1988; Dogar and Srinivasa, 2010), and for pre-grasp manipulation, allowing robots to bring objects into configurations where they can be easily grasped (King et al., 2013). Less existential, yet highly interesting and entertaining, dexterous pushing skills are also widely applied and applauded in robot soccer (Emery and Balch, 2001).

Tepco to deploy robot for first contact with melted fuel from Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster

The Japan Times

The owner of the wrecked Fukushima No. 1 power plant is trying this week to touch melted fuel at the bottom of the plant for the first time since the disaster almost eight years ago, a tiny but key step toward retrieving the radioactive material amid a ¥21.5 trillion ($195 billion) cleanup effort. Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. will on Wednesday insert a robot developed by Toshiba Corp. to make contact with material believed to contain melted fuel inside the containment vessel of the unit 2 reactor, one of three units that melted down after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. "We plan to confirm if we can move or lift the debris or if it crumbles," Joji Hara, a spokesman for Tepco said by phone Friday. Tepco doesn't plan to collect samples during the survey. The country is seeking to clean up the Fukushima disaster, the world's worst atomic accident since Chernobyl, which prompted a mass shutdown of its reactors.

Toshiba unveils robot with tongs to probe melted Fukushima nuclear fuel

The Japan Times

YOKOHAMA - Toshiba Corp. unveiled a remote-controlled robot with tongs on Monday that it hopes will be able to probe the inside of one of the three damaged reactors at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant and grip chunks of highly radioactive melted fuel. The device is designed to slide down an extendable 11-meter (36-foot) long pipe and touch melted fuel inside reactor 2's primary containment vessel. The reactor was built by Toshiba and GE. An earlier probe carrying a camera captured images of pieces of melted fuel in the reactor last year, and robotic probes in the two other reactors have detected traces of damaged fuel, but the exact location, contents and other details remain largely unknown. Toshiba's energy systems unit said experiments with the new probe planned in February are key to determining the proper equipment and technologies needed to remove the fuel debris, the most challenging part of the decommissioning process expected to take decades.