It's a Ford Mondeo, but not as we know it. This one has about £100,000 worth of sensors, cameras on the roof, and a fairly ordinary computer in the boot, enabling it to drive itself. So far it's notched up hundreds of miles on public roads in Oxford and the surrounding area. By September, it will be one of a fleet of six autonomous cars driving to London.
Putting together flat-pack furniture can be arduous and frustrating. So why not let robots do it instead? A pair of robot arms can now assemble an IKEA chair in just a few minutes, and without arguing too. The setup consists of two industrial robot arms with grippers and force sensors, all watched over by a 3D camera. To start things off, parts of an IKEA STEFAN chair are jumbled up and dumped in front of the arms.
The swarm consists of SwarmDivers, small rocket-shaped vehicles, that can work cooperatively to carry out impossible feats for single robot submarines, as shown in a new video. The SwarmDiver drones were unveiled last week by Aquabotix, a firm based in Australia. While many autonomous underwater vehicles are already in use, Aquabotix says their SwarmDivers can work as a group, with one operator controlling the entire swarm via a simple interface.
Robots are the great bogeymen of the 21st century. With their superhuman strength and non-stop work ethic many feel they are gunning for our jobs. But these fears may be overblown. The first comprehensive look at automation on the German economy suggests that robots created more jobs than they destroyed. People's fears have been stoked by headlines warning of the robot take over.
Robots are talking with bees. A robotic bee can tell real bees the best places to forage, and at least some of the time they seem to get the message. Bees communicate using a sequence of movements known as the waggle dance, where the dancer wiggles their body whilst moving in a figure of eight. The orientation and the length of the movements tell other bees the direction and distance of a food source. A robot called RoboBee can mimic this dance.
When artificial intelligence and death meet, a flood of headlines is rarely far behind. Last month, they were about a self-driving Uber that ran over and killed a woman as she crossed a road in Arizona. And then a Tesla, driven by its software, hit a central reservation in the US, killing the driver. While there is fierce debate over the real-world capabilities of driverless cars, there is one area where there is broad support for keeping AI at bay: weapons that can target and fire without human oversight.
MAYBE robots won't take all our jobs after all. The risk of jobs being handed over to artificial intelligence is a lot lower than previously forecast, according to an OECD report. In 2013, an influential University of Oxford study warned that nearly half of all US jobs and 35 per cent of UK ones were at "high risk" of automation over the next 20 years. The new OECD report says it is more like 10 per cent of jobs in the US and 12 per cent of those in the UK that are under threat.
Miniature human brains with their own blood vessels have been grown in the lab for the first time. The achievement could enable researchers to grow bigger organoids to better help us study and understand how the brain works. Organoids are small, 3D clumps of tissue that behave more naturally in the lab than traditional, flat cell cultures.
SILENTLY think of a question and I will answer it. That might sound like a magic trick, but it is the promise of AlterEgo, a headset that lets you speak to a computer without ever uttering a sound. It's not quite a mind reader, but it is close. The device brings us a step closer to a world where we can interact seamlessly with machines using only our thoughts. AlterEgo's creators believe that rather than embarrassingly saying things like "OK Google" or "Hey Siri" and then …
INFORMATION wants to be free. This decades-old slogan is the philosophical heart of the internet, putting nearly all human knowledge at our fingertips, free to anyone with a connection. Here is another old slogan: if you're not paying, you're the product. We might not hand over cash for many of the services we get from the internet giants, but we do pay in cold, hard data. On the whole, we have been happy to make that pact.