Robots may be able to lift, drive, and chat, but are they safe and trustworthy?


In his newly published scan of the literature, expert Thomas B. Sheridan concludes that the time is ripe for human factors researchers to contribute scientific insights that can tackle the many challenges of human-robot interaction. Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Emeritus Sheridan, who for decades has studied humans and automation, looked at self-driving cars and highly automated transit systems; routine tasks such as the delivery of packages in Amazon warehouses; devices that handle tasks in hazardous or inaccessible environments, such as the Fukushima nuclear plant; and robots that engage in social interaction (Barbies). In each case, he noted significant human factors challenges, particularly concerning safety. No human driver, he claims, will stay alert to take over control of a Google car quickly enough should the automation fail. Nor does self-driving car technology consider the value of social interaction between drivers such as eye contact and hand signals.

Matthew highlights the human factor in extreme weather

Al Jazeera

Although Hurricane Matthew continues to bring heavy rain and storm surges to parts of the US' east coast, it is no longer the threat it once was. The death toll in the US from Matthew believed to be 10, according to the latest Associated Press news agency tally. That is 10 too many, of course, but it pales in insignificance when compared to the almost 900 deaths recorded in Haiti as Matthew swept across the Caribbean nation. While Haiti took a direct hit from Matthew, a Category 4 storm at the time, the hurricane remained largely off shore as it as it travelled up the US east coast. Yet there was an inevitability about the impact of a severe storm on a country like Haiti.

Dodgers put Carl Crawford on the disabled list because of a sore back

Los Angeles Times

The Dodgers placed Carl Crawford on the disabled list Saturday morning, the seventh time in the last six seasons the 34-year-old outfielder has ended up there. The cause this time was soreness in his lower back, which has affected him since the middle of March. The team recalled infielder Micah Johnson, who could useful on the bases as a pinch runner for Manager Dave Roberts. Johnson also played the outfield on Friday night for triple-A Oklahoma City. With Crawford out, Roberts intends to split the playing time in left field between veteran Scott Van Slyke and rookie Trayce Thompson.

Clayton Kershaw throws first bullpen session for Dodgers since back injury

Los Angeles Times

On Sunday morning, the final day before the All-Star break, Clayton Kershaw took a sizable step toward his return to the Dodgers. He threw a light bullpen session before his team faced San Diego, which marked the first time he threw off a mound since receiving an epidural injection on June 29 to aid a herniated disk in his lower back. Manager Dave Roberts indicated Kershaw will not be a part of the team's rotation during the first five games after the break. But he left open the possibility that Kershaw could rejoin the team during the next turn through the rotation. "To see Clayton in a pen, throwing off a mound, is definitely encouraging," Roberts said.

Texans star J.J. Watt could miss rest of season because of back injury

Los Angeles Times

J.J. Watt is out until at least December and could miss the rest of the season because of a back injury, leaving the Houston Texans searching for ways to deal with the loss of the NFL's best defensive player. Watt was placed on injured reserve on Wednesday, which means he'll be out for a minimum of eight weeks. "You can never replace the best player in the NFL," Coach Bill O'Brien said. "When someone like that goes down, it's a tough thing obviously, but at the same time this is a team." O'Brien said Watt had re-injured his back and putting him on injured reserve was the best thing for his long-term health.