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Autonomous Vehicles

Japan agriculture crunch -- can AI-powered autonomous tractors help? - Tech Wire Asia


Japan's farming market is possibly undergoing its twilight years with a significantly greying community, and that's why smart, autonomous tractors being developed by machine maker Kubota Tractor Corporation could hold commercial appeal. According to Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing, the number of Japanese engaged primarily in farming dropped to 1.7 million in 2014 from 1.86 million in 2011. About 515,000 farmers were 75 years or older in 2014. By comparison, only 83,000 were 39 years old or younger -- and that number was down by 7,000 from just three years earlier, reports USA Today. To make matters more pressing, Japan's population is shrinking by a quarter of a million people a year, and the number of births in 2014 was the lowest since record-keeping began in 1899, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Elon Musk says 'Full Self-Driving' mode on Tesla is finally here, sort of


For the lucky few selected to experience "Full Self-Driving" (or FSD) on their Tesla vehicle, Tuesday night is the night. Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted Tuesday afternoon that the autonomous mode was "happening tonight" after promising the feature would make it onto cars last week. FSD has been a long time coming. It's been available as a future-ready option on the electric cars for a while, even if you couldn't actually use it. Musk warned that the car's autonomous abilities will be "extremely slow & cautious."

Ford will use its Escape SUV to power a self-driving car service


With the unveiling of its latest autonomous test vehicle, Ford believes it's one step closer to offering a commercial self-driving car service (via NBC News). In a new Medium post, the automaker detailed its fourth-generation autonomous test vehicle, claiming in the process that it includes all the technologies the company needs for commercialization. "With our fourth-generation test vehicle, we have everything we need from a vehicle to stand up our self-driving service," the company said. And, we look forward to telling you more about how this service will ultimately help make people's lives better." As for the vehicle itself, it builds on the company's Escape SUV, instead of the Fusion sedan Ford had used for its previous generation testbeds.

Detecting Traffic Lights using the Monk Object Detection Library


In a world of Self-driving vehicles, traffic lights would become a thing of the past. But as long as humans are driving alongside, self-driving vehicles have to follow the rules made by humans. One of these rules is following the traffic lights. The autonomous-vehicles have to detect and recognize the traffic lights to avoid accidents and mess on the street. Here is my recent contribution to the Tessellate Imaging Monk Object detection library.

The Growing Role Of Artificial Intelligence In Business


Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become the semiconductor equivalent of software -- pervasive, intangible, and capable of transforming the fiber of society and business. It is integrated into a growing number of applications and systems today in a manner that is both seamless and transformational. From Amazon's Alexa to self-driving vehicles, the development of AI has been revolutionary to the point that it seems to mimic human features, intelligence, and behavior. Although experts and scientists have warned against the dangers and hazards associated with highly mature AI machines, the market is expected to expand rapidly. According to Forbes, AI is a strategic priority of 83% of businesses today and is expected to drive global sales from nearly $8 billion in 2016 to more than $47 billion by 2020.

Apple iPhone 12 Pro Review: Apple's Awkward Middle Child


The iPhone 12 Pro is the awkward middle child in Apple's 2020 lineup. There are now four new iPhones to choose from (technically five, but I'm not counting the Face ID-less iPhone SE from earlier this year). You can get the same performance on all four phones, and the same screen quality too, now that the cheaper iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Mini have OLED displays and a bumped-up resolution. Usually, when you spend a little more on an iPhone, you get all of the top-tier features. But even at $1,000, the iPhone 12 Pro doesn't get you all of the best tech.

Uber's Self-Driving Car Killed Someone. Why Isn't Uber Being Charged?


Autonomous vehicle design involves an almost incomprehensible combination of engineering tasks including sensor fusion, path planning, and predictive modeling of human behavior. But despite the best efforts to consider all possible real world outcomes, things can go awry. More than two and a half years ago, in Tempe, Arizona, an Uber "self-driving" car crashed into pedestrian Elaine Herzberg, killing her. In mid-September, the safety driver behind the wheel of that car, Rafaela Vasquez, was charged with negligent homicide. Uber's test vehicle was driving 39 mph when it struck Herzberg. Uber's sensors detected her six seconds before impact but determined that the object sensed was a false positive.

The new ML framework that could make robots safer in crowds - TechHQ


Robots will soon be moving around us in the'real world'. They won't be confined behind the closed doors of warehouses or factories, they will operate in and interact with the world around us, taxiing us around town or delivering our mail. As new advances in technology are rapidly being made by organizations like Boston Dynamics and Amazon Robotics, 61% of executives expect their organizations to use robotics in uncontrolled environments within the next two years, according to Accenture. While these machines will be capable of performing the functions of roles traditionally previously carried out by people with ease, question marks still loom over their innate lack of instinct -- the lack of a comparative mass of situational data generated and stored by humans throughout our lives, that subconsciously enables us to sense a risky maneuver in the road or somebody about to step in front of us. Building safety into robots and autonomous vehicles remains one of the key challenges to their deployment.

Rural North Carolinia residents will soon get their meds delivered by drone


Drones have already shown that they can reliably deliver vital shipments of blood across Rwanda, drop off prescriptions to senior citizens in Florida, and help quarantining families stay safe with contactless deliveries. Now they're going to be buzzing through the skies of rural North Carolina thanks to a novel delivery service devised by drug-maker Merck and drone-maker Volansi. The plan is simple: use Volansi's 7-foot long "Gemini" quadcopter to ferry packages of cold chain medicines -- such as vaccines, glaucoma treatments, insulin, and asthma inhalers -- from Merck's Wilson, NC drug lab to the nine regional hospitals that make up Vidant Healthplex-Wilson. This medical network serves more than 1.4 million people across 29 counties in eastern North Carolina. "We've seen the world's supply chain strained like never before from the impact of Coronavirus," said Hannan Parvizian, CEO of Volansi, said in a press statement.

When Start-Ups Go Into the Garage (or Sometimes the Living Room)

NYT > Economy

It is the folksiest of Silicon Valley origin stories: Tech start-up makes it big after a wide-eyed entrepreneur builds a prototype in his garage. But Colin Wessells could never have imagined that a pandemic would force him back into the garage just to keep his company going. Mr. Wessells, 34, is one of the founders and the chief executive of Natron Energy, a start-up building a new kind of battery. In March, when social distancing orders shuttered his company's offices in Santa Clara, Calif., he and his engineers could no longer use the lab where they tested the batteries. So he packed as much of the equipment as he could into a sport utility vehicle, drove it home and recreated part of the lab in his garage.