A front cover of the New York Post in December offered an unflattering view of Amazon Go, a test convenience store that does away with cashiers. The cover included Robby the Robot modified with Amazon branding and standing beside the giant headline: "THE END OF JOBS." Paul Misener, Amazon's vice president of global innovation, sees things a little differently. "We've not seen a slowdown in our hiring at all because of increased automation," Misener, an Amazon veteran of over 15 years, said in a phone interview Monday while he was visiting SXSW. We continue to deploy automation and we continue to hire people.
A new drone security startup claims it can disable or fly rogue drones that get too close to airports, military bases, stadiums or other other sensitive areas. SkySafe is one of several startups looking to stake a claim in the burgeoning drone enforcement industry. Headquartered in San Diego, SkySafe showed off its technology, but offered few details of how it was able to detect, hack into and control a drone in midair. It was speculated that SkySafe uses radio frequencies to take over the unmanned autonomous vehicles. "We fully take control of the drone from the operator, it sees us as the legitimate controller, and we can move it to a safe location and land it," said Grant Jordan, founder of SkySafe, in an interview with the Verge.
So far, Agility Robotics has sold three Cassie robots (University of Michigan is a customer, for example) and has sales for another three in progress. The goal is to sell another six Cassie robots, "so optimistically 12 customers total for the entire production run of Cassie," Shelton tells CNBC Make It. "That is obviously, though, a relatively compact market, and is not why we're doing the company," says Shelton, in an interview with CNBC Make It. Indeed, the next generation of the company's legged robots will also have arms, says Shelton. And one target use for the more humanoid robot will be carrying packages from delivery trucks to your door. Shelton says his house is a perfect example of how a legged robot would assist in delivery.
As the race intensifies to run machine learning tasks in embedded devices instead of the cloud, several companies are trying to set themselves up with custom chips to ease the shift. Horizon Robotics is not only tackling chips but also software and the cloud, with an eye toward beating rivals in applications like security cameras and autonomous cars. "The chip is the local brain that directly senses the surrounding environment, while the algorithm is the miner of the data," said Kai Yu, founder and chief executive of Horizon Robotics, and the former head of Baidu's artificial intelligence unit, called the Institute of Deep Learning, in an interview with Electronic Design. "We want to empower end devices with A.I. capacity and make them smart without relying on the cloud alone," Yu said, adding that the "chip and algorithms are used to perceive and filter big data, perform real-time processing and transmit valuable data to the cloud for further mining and modeling. The central component in Horizon Robotics' SoCs is the brain processing unit, a custom block of circuitry that specializes in algorithms trained on vast libraries of images, hundreds of hours of video, or other data.
A company can have the best technology in the world. It can have the strongest talent. It can have the coolest product ideas. But to train the algorithms that will deliver the intelligence to transform our cities, it needs data. Sign up to get Backchannel's weekly newsletter. That's why earlier this year, after leaving Microsoft the previous fall, legendary engineer Qi Lu headed to Beijing to become Baidu's chief operating officer. At his former job, he was, among other things, CEO Satya Nadella's top deputy in helping to lead the company's AI strategy. Clearly, he saw more opportunity across the Pacific: In China, 731 million people--nearly twice the entire population of the United States--are online.