A quick, hassle-free way to stay on top of robotics news, our robotics digest is released on the first Monday of every month. Sign up to get it in your inbox. March is a month for change and new beginnings. The new UK Budget promised hundreds of millions of pounds to scientists and researchers to develop solutions to hi-tech challenges, including artificial intelligence and robotics, next generation batteries and new techniques for manufacturing medicines. The government is expected to allocate more than £500 million from the National Productivity Investment Fund so that UK companies might lead the way in the new technologies set to transform the world.
Irish chip maker Movidius has created the world's first deep learning USB stick that can add artificial intelligence (AI) to future products from self-driving cars to robots, and drones that will learn to think for themselves. Entitled the Fathom Neural Compute Stick, the device will sell for less than 100 and will allow powerful neural networks to be moved out of the cloud and deployed on new products like robots and drones. It is the latest breakthrough for the Dublin company, which has been winning major multi-million dollar deals with Google and drone maker DJI. 'With Fathom, every robot, big and small, can now have state-of-the-art vision capabilities' – DR YANN LECUN, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY "Any organisation can now add deep learning or machine intelligence to devices using the USB stick and create products that will be accessible to broader markets," Movidius co-founder David Moloney told Siliconrepublic.com. "We've already seen how the auto industry has been outflanked by Tesla and this is also starting to affect other industries.
At the two-day RoboBusiness Conference, about 2,000 people were serenaded with lullabies and Disney tunes, including "Let It Go" from the hit film "Frozen," by a human-like robot designed to comfort senior citizens and autistic children. And next to a man-size robot that can drive a motorcycle 190 mph around a race track, a half-dozen ant-size robots quickly scurried about a miniature factory floor. "In five years, could you imagine what this conference is going to look like?" "There are going to be 8-foot robots walking all around us, talking to us, some of them maybe being smarter than us." The 12th annual conference, which wrapped up Thursday, illustrated how the focus of robotics is shifting from industrial uses to consumer products. That's especially true at a time when drones, self-driving cars and police robots that carry bombs are making news.