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Robotics & Automation


The Morning After: LG might get out of the smartphone business

Engadget

In the US, today is Inauguration Day, and as Joe Biden prepares to take the oath as our 46th president, it's worth taking a look back at the discussions four years ago. Back then, the "most tech-savvy" president exited as all eyes turned to Donald Trump trading in his Android Twitter machine for a secure device. We know how things went after that. Donald Trump isn't tweeting anymore (at least not from his main accounts), and the country is struggling through a pandemic. The outgoing president just saw his temporary YouTube ban extended and, in one of his last official acts, pardoned Anthony Levandowski for stealing self-driving car secrets from Google's subsidiary Waymo.


Trump pardons Anthony Levandowski, who stole trade secrets from Google

Mashable

Donald Trump is on his way out of the White House, but that didn't stop him from pardoning 73 people and commuting the sentences of another 70 people on the last day of his presidency. One name on that list is Anthony Levandowski, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets from the Google-owned, self-driving car company Waymo. Levandowski was a co-founder of Google's self-driving car division before leaving the tech giant in 2016 to start a self-driving truck company called Otto. That company was subsequently acquired by Uber, and Waymo filed a lawsuit alleging that their confidential information ended up in the hands of Uber. Levandowski was looking at a 10-year sentence, but he eventually pleaded guilty to trade secret theft, thus reducing his prison sentence.


Honda to collaborate with GM over self-driving service in Japan

The Japan Times

Honda Motor Co. said Wednesday it will collaborate with General Motors Co. and its unit Cruise LLC on launching a service using self-driving vehicles in Japan and start feasibility tests later this year. Automakers are scrambling to develop next-generation autonomous vehicles, with IT firms also joining the race. Honda and major U.S. carmaker GM agreed in 2018 to join hands in developing self-driving vehicles. Honda said it plans to start a mobility business using the Cruise Origin, a self-driving vehicle being developed by the three companies, with an eye to offering new transportation solutions in potential collaboration with local governments in Japan. "Through active collaboration with partners who share the same interests and aspirations, Honda will continue to accelerate the realization of our autonomous vehicle MaaS business in Japan," Honda President Takahiro Hachigo said in a statement, referring to its mobility service.


Microsoft invests in General Motors' self-driving subsidiary Cruise

ZDNet

Microsoft is investing in General Motors' self-driving subsidiary Cruise. In return, Cruise and GM are touting Azure as their "preferred" (though not exclusive) cloud vendor. According to the January 19 press release about the deal, Cruise will use Azure for its autonomous vehicle solutions. GM will work with Microsoft on collaboration, storage, AI and machine learning, as well as on digital-supply chain, productivity and mobility services. And Microsoft will join GM, Honda and institutional investors in a combined, new equity investment of more than $2 billion in Cruise.


Self-supervised learning of visual appearance solves fundamental problems of optical flow

Robohub

How do honeybees land on flowers or avoid obstacles? One would expect such questions to be mostly of interest to biologists. However, the rise of small electronics and robotic systems has also made them relevant to robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI). For example, small flying robots are extremely restricted in terms of the sensors and processing that they can carry onboard. If these robots are to be as autonomous as the much larger self-driving cars, they will have to use an extremely efficient type of artificial intelligence – similar to the highly developed intelligence possessed by flying insects.


Microsoft teams up with Cruise and GM on self-driving cars

Engadget

Cruise and GM have enlisted an important ally in their quest to make self-driving cars a practical reality. The two have entered a "long-term strategic relationship" with Microsoft to speed up the commercialization of autonomous vehicles. Cruise will use Microsoft's Azure cloud platform to deliver self-driving tech "at scale," while Microsoft will draw on Cruise's know-how to serve transportation companies. GM will treat Microsoft as its preferred cloud provider, too. There's money involved, to no one's surprise.


Microsoft Bets on Driverless-Car Space With Investment inGM's Cruise

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Microsoft Corp. is investing in General Motors Co. 's driverless-car startup Cruise as part of a strategic tie-up, another sign of renewed interest in the autonomous-technology space after a relatively quiet period. Microsoft is among a group of companies that will invest more than $2 billion in San Francisco-based Cruise, which has been majority-owned by GM since early 2016. The financing brings Cruise's valuation to $30 billion, Cruise said Tuesday, up from an estimated $19 billion in spring 2019. GM is adding to its Cruise investment as part of the funding round and will retain a majority stake, a Cruise spokesman said. The investment also includes current stakeholder Honda Motor Co. and other institutional investors that Cruise declined to name.


The Fear of Artificial Intelligence in Job Loss

#artificialintelligence

With all the hype over Artificial Intelligence, there is additionally a lot of disturbing buzz about the negative results of AI. More than one-quarter (27%) of all employees state they are stressed that the work they have now will be disposed of within the next five years because of new innovation, robots or artificial intelligence, as indicated by the quarterly CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workplace Happiness review. In certain industries where technology already has played a profoundly disruptive role, employees fear of automation likewise run higher than the normal: Workers in automotives, business logistics and support, marketing and advertising, and retail are proportionately more stressed over new technology replacing their jobs than those in different industries. The dread stems from the fact that the business is already witnessing it. Self-driving trucks already are compromising the jobs of truck drivers, and it is causing a huge frenzy in this job line.


Global Big Data Conference

#artificialintelligence

With all the hype over Artificial Intelligence, there is additionally a lot of disturbing buzz about the negative results of AI. More than one-quarter (27%) of all employees state they are stressed that the work they have now will be disposed of within the next five years because of new innovation, robots or artificial intelligence, as indicated by the quarterly CNBC/SurveyMonkey Workplace Happiness review. In certain industries where technology already has played a profoundly disruptive role, employees fear of automation likewise run higher than the normal: Workers in automotives, business logistics and support, marketing and advertising, and retail are proportionately more stressed over new technology replacing their jobs than those in different industries. The dread stems from the fact that the business is already witnessing it. Self-driving trucks already are compromising the jobs of truck drivers, and it is causing a huge frenzy in this job line.


Robotics trends at #CES2021

Robohub

Even massive events like the 54th edition of Consumer Electronics Show (CES) have gone virtual due to the current pandemic. Since 1967, the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), which is the North American trade association for the consumer technology industry, has been organising the fair, and this year was not going to be any different--well, except they had to take the almost 300,000m${} 2$ from CES 2020 to the cloud. In this post, I mainly put the focus on current and future hardware/robotics trends presented at CES 2021 (because we all love to make predictions, even during uncertain times). "Innovation accelerates and bunches up during economic downturns only to be unleashed as the economy begins to recover, ushering in powerful waves of technological change"--Christopher Freeman, British Economist. With this quote, I start the first session on'my show' of CES 2021, 'Tech trends to watch' by CTA (see their slides here).