Why Rat-Brained Robots Are So Good at Navigating Unfamiliar Terrain

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

While running a SLAM algorithm, a robot can explore strange terrain, building a map of its surroundings while at the same time positioning, or localizing, itself within that map. Wyeth had long been interested in brain-inspired computing, starting with work on neural networks in the late 1980s. Their aim wasn't to create maps built with costly lidars and high-powered computers--they wanted their system to make sense of space the way animals do. To mimic this structure and behavior in software, Milford adopted a type of artificial neural network called an attractor network.

After Mastering Singapore's Streets, NuTonomy's Robo-taxis Are Poised to Take on New Cities

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Take a short walk through Singapore's city center and you'll cross a helical bridge modeled on the structure of DNA, pass a science museum shaped like a lotus flower, and end up in a towering grove of artificial Supertrees that pulse with light and sound. It's no surprise, then, that this is the first city to host a fleet of autonomous taxis. Since last April, robo-taxis have been exploring the 6 kilometers of roads that make up Singapore's One-North technology business district, and people here have become used to hailing them through a ride-sharing app. Maybe that's why I'm the only person who seems curious when one of the vehicles--a slightly modified Renault Zoe electric car--pulls up outside of a Starbucks. Seated inside the car are an engineer, a safety driver, and Doug Parker, chief operating officer of nuTonomy, the MIT spinout that's behind the project.

Video Friday: iCub Does Yoga, Wooden Walking Robot, and Wind Tunnel for Drones

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

We're told that Markus bet that this thing could only work in theory, and lost: This video introduces the monospinner, the mechanically simplest controllable flying machine in existence. With the company's ultra-low power, high performance Myriad 2 processor inside, the Fathom Neural Compute Stick can run fully-trained neural networks at under 1 Watt of power. As a tinkerer and builder of various robots and flying contraptions, I've been dreaming of getting my hands on something like the Fathom Neural Compute Stick for a long time. Last year in Seoul, KAIST's Unmanned Systems Research Group participated in an autonomous car demo in downtown Seoul.