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Australia to monitor illegal activities in marine parks in drone trial

ZDNet

The Australian Director of National Parks is looking to run a trial to use drones to monitor, detect, and collect information about prohibited activities, such as illegal fishing operations, in marine parks. In an approach to market, the Director of National Parks, which is responsible for managing Australia's marine parks (AMPs), said it is looking at the possibility of using unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) technology as a cost-effective alternative to traditional surveillance methods that involve using manned surveillance flights, as well as a way to ensure any prohibited activities are not missed. "Parks Australia currently has an information gap regarding the activities conducted by small craft vessels which are not equipped with vessel monitoring systems and are not required to have automated identification systems. Unauthorised tourism and recreational fishing activities may be going undetected, creating a significant gap in AMP domain awareness for managers," the agency wrote. "Traditional surveillance approaches for detecting small craft, such as vessel patrols and manned aerial surveillance flights, can be extremely costly. This trial seeks to inform the compliance program through the investigation of new, cost-effective technologies to monitor vessel activity within AMPs."


Behind those dancing robots, scientists had to bust a move

Boston Herald

The man who designed some of the world's most advanced dynamic robots was on a daunting mission: programming his creations to dance to the beat with a mix of fluid, explosive and expressive motions that are almost human. Almost a year and half of choreography, simulation, programming and upgrades that were capped by two days of filming to produce a video running at less than 3 minutes. The clip, showing robots dancing to the 1962 hit "Do You Love Me?" by The Contours, was an instant hit on social media, attracting more than 23 million views during the first week. It shows two of Boston Dynamics' humanoid Atlas research robots doing the twist, the mashed potato and other classic moves, joined by Spot, a doglike robot, and Handle, a wheeled robot designed for lifting and moving boxes in a warehouse or truck. Boston Dynamics founder and chairperson Marc Raibert says what the robot maker learned was far more valuable.


Trump made a mess of tech policy. Here's what Biden is inheriting.

Mashable

It's hard to focus on the nitty gritty of tech policy when the world is on fire. Take, for example, his fight against Big Tech in the name of "anti-conservative bias" (no, it doesn't exist), which resulted in an assault on Section 230. Experts say the true aim of those efforts was to undermine content moderation, and normalize the white supremacist attitudes that helped put people like Trump in power. Unfortunately, those allegations will have life for years to come as a form of "zombie Trumpism," as Berin Szoka, a senior fellow at the technology policy organization TechFreedom, put it. Trump may be gone from office and Twitter.


Pizza Hut to test drone delivery to 'landing zones'

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Pizza Hut is reaching new heights with its latest delivery experiment. Tech company Dragontail Systems Limited announced this week that it has deployed drones for restaurants to carry meals to delivery drivers in remote landing zones. Those drones will be flying pizzas from a Pizza Hut location in northern Israel starting in June, The Wall Street Journal reported.


Robots: Jellyfish-inspired swimming machine could explore coral reefs and archaeological sites

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A swimming robot that mimics the super-effective way that jellyfish move about underwater could soon be used to explore coral reefs and archaeological sites. Experts use a measure called the'cost of transport' to compare the movement efficiency of different species from across the animal kingdom. Such studies have show that nature's more efficient mover -- easily beating out running and flying animals and bony fish -- is the moon jellyfish, Aurelia aurita. These soft-bodied creatures move by squeezing their bodies in order to expel a jet of water that propels them forward. Inspired by this, engineers from Southampton and Edinburgh built a jet-driven robot that is around 10–50 times more efficient that its propeller-driven peers.


Watch a robot squid propel itself through water with rhythm

New Scientist

Robot squid that move to a rhythm can match the power efficiency of the real animals, a trick that could be useful for designing next-generation submarines. Real squid have small fins that they use for careful manoeuvring, but when a big burst of speed is required they suck in and expel water to propel themselves. Researchers have tried to build robots that mimic this jet-like behaviour, but now a team led by Gabriel Weymouth at the University of Southampton, UK, has discovered a way to boost their efficiency. Weymouth and his colleagues created an umbrella-like robot with eight 3D-printed plastic ribs covered by a rubber skirt. It flexes outwards to suck in water and contracts to expel it, providing thrust.


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.


Flying robots get FAA approval in first for drone sector

ZDNet

The FAA has authorized its first-ever approval to a company for use of automated drones without human operators on site. The move comes as the agency is putting new rules in place to evolve regulation of the broader enterprise drone paradigm in the U.S., which has lagged behind other developed nations in adopting industry-friendly commercial drone guidelines. Boston-based American Robotics, a developer of automated drone systems specializing in rugged environments, received the FAA approval last week, marking a first for the federal agency. "Decades worth of promise and projection are finally coming to fruition," says Reese Mozer, CEO and co-founder of American Robotics. "We are proud to be the first company to meet the FAA's comprehensive safety requirements, which had previously restricted the viability of drone use in the commercial sector."


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.


Singapore tops up 5G fund to drive product commercialisation

ZDNet

Singapore is setting aside another SG$30 million ($22.57 The government grant aims to facilitate efforts to commercialise service offerings and offer financial help to more local companies, including small and midsize businesses (SMBs). The latest fund injection is part of the Infocomm Media Development Authority's (IMDA) 5G Innovation Programme and earmarked to support development efforts that "address sector challenges or enterprise level needs", the industry regulator said in a statement Wednesday. Industry regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority has set aside S$40 million (US$29.53 million) to support research and development efforts and drive adoption of 5G, which include initiatives focused on key verticals such as urban mobility and maritime. Under the 5G government grant, applicants must indicate a "significant value and impact" to businesses and the local industry as well as include operationalisation and commercialisation plans of the 5G products.