If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
Drone racing is an increasingly popular sport with big money prizes for skilled professionals. New control algorithms developed at the University of Zurich (UZH) have beaten experienced human pilots for the first time – but they still have significant limitations. In the past, attempts to develop automated algorithms to beat humans have run into problems with accurately simulating the limitations of the quadcopter and the flight path it takes. Traditional flight paths around a complex drone racing course are calculated using polynomial methods which produce a series of smooth curves, and these are not necessarily as fast as the sharper and more jagged paths flown by human pilots. A team from the Robotics and Perception Group at UZH has developed a trajectory planning algorithm to calculates the optimal route at every point in the flight, rather than doing it section by section.
There may not have been any fans in the Olympic Stadium, but Japan still found a way to put on a show for the opening of the 2020 Summer Games. The host country charmed early with the parade of nations, which featured an orchestrated video game soundtrack, and then showed off the type of creativity it's known for with a performance involving the Olympic pictograms. But Tokyo saved the biggest spectacle for last. Towards the end of the ceremony, a fleet of 1,824 drones took to the skies above the Olympic Stadium. Initially arrayed in the symbol of the 2020 Games, they then took on the shape of the Earth before a rendition of John Lenon's "Imagine," which was reworked by Hans Zimmer for the Olympics, played across the stadium.
Industrial drones are nothing new, but the growth curve and pace of adoption is pretty astounding. The adoption of industrial drone programs by industry is expected to increase at a 66.8% compound annual growth rate over the next year. The best aerial hardware and technology stacks for keeping an eye on operations, individuals, and valued assets from above. Industrial drones are being used in major industries like insurance, mining and aggregates, using cutting-edge technologies (AI, machine learning, and deep data analytics, to name a few) to drastically reduce the time workers spend gathering and analyzing data while increasing accuracy and positively impacting the bottom line. All of these working together result in a growing field impacting industrial work and forever changing how these industries operate on a daily basis globally: smart inspections.
My wife and I were recently driving in Virginia, amazed yet again that the GPS technology on our phones could guide us through a thicket of highways, around road accidents, and toward our precise destination. The artificial intelligence (AI) behind the soothing voice telling us where to turn has replaced passenger-seat navigators, maps, even traffic updates on the radio. How on earth did we survive before this technology arrived in our lives? We survived, of course, but were quite literally lost some of the time. My reverie was interrupted by a toll booth. It was empty, as were all the other booths at this particular toll plaza.
The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work. In collaboration with the United States Navy's Underwater Archaeology Branch, I taught a computer how to recognize shipwrecks on the ocean floor from scans taken by aircraft and ships on the surface. The computer model we created is 92% accurate in finding known shipwrecks. The project focused on the coasts of the mainland U.S. and Puerto Rico. It is now ready to be used to find unknown or unmapped shipwrecks.
To be useful, drones need to be quick. Because of their limited battery life they must complete whatever task they have – searching for survivors on a disaster site, inspecting a building, delivering cargo – in the shortest possible time. And they may have to do it by going through a series of waypoints like windows, rooms, or specific locations to inspect, adopting the best trajectory and the right acceleration or deceleration at each segment. The best human drone pilots are very good at doing this and have so far always outperformed autonomous systems in drone racing. Now, a research group at the University of Zurich (UZH) has created an algorithm that can find the quickest trajectory to guide a quadrotor – a drone with four propellers – through a series of waypoints on a circuit.
To be useful, drones need to be quick. Because of their limited battery life, they must complete whatever task they have--searching for survivors on a disaster site, inspecting a building, delivering cargo--in the shortest possible time. And they may have to do it by going through a series of waypoints like windows, rooms, or specific locations to inspect, adopting the best trajectory and the right acceleration or deceleration at each segment. The best human drone pilots are very good at doing this and have so far always outperformed autonomous systems in drone racing. Now, a research group at the University of Zurich (UZH) has created an algorithm that can find the quickest trajectory to guide a quadrotor--a drone with four propellers--through a series of waypoints on a circuit.
There is a rise in the number of natural disasters happening all over the world. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there were 16 natural disasters in 2017. The cost of all the damages is in the billions. The amount of destruction they cause is devastating and it has left many of us wondering what more can be done. Unfortunately, we don't have control over what nature decides to do but we can work on improving our emergency management services.
The swarm took over land, air, water and above-water environments, but was operated as one autonomously controlled unit from a single ground station. An autonomous swarm of six drones flew in the sky, dived underwater and crept over land to assist armed forces with various experimental missions in a first-of-its-kind exercise for the UK Royal Marines. The uncrewed systems were deployed as part of training raids on simulated adversary positions in Cumbria and Dorset, and were tasked with various missions ranging from reconnaissance operations through delivering supplies to soldiers, to identifying and tracking targets of interest. Made up of six different types of drones, the swarm took over land, air, water and above-water environments, but was operated as one autonomously controlled unit from a single ground station. This means that the systems worked together, sharing data from their sensors across a single communications network.
The new shipping industry is nearly here. Amazon Inc. just applied for a patent on a new package delivery system capable of shipping consumer goods from the primary delivery vehicle to your door via a mini-sized delivery vehicle robot that ferries shipments to final end-point destinations, according to a filing with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. But we could still get the flying drone deliveries we secretly crave. In the last decade, Amazon and other delivery services have investigated the possibility of employing new technologies to transport packages from warehouses to consumers. The proposals have ranged from driverless vans housing smaller robots to flying drones that ship directly through the air to customer airspace (and then a parachute drop of packages). Electronic delivery robots were assumed to be a cheaper alternative to hiring and supporting humans to perform hard labor.