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Amazon's vision for the future: delivery drone beehives in every city The Verge

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Amazon's drone delivery program stopped being a joke a while ago, but the company still has to overcome serious challenges to make the technology actually work. One of these is getting drones near enough to large populations so they're more efficient than regular road delivery. Amazon has an idea for that though: Huge.


UAV-based crop and weed classification for future farming

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Modern approaches as agriculture system management and smart farming typically require detailed knowledge about the current field status. We use a comparably cheap, out-of-the-box UAV system to capture images of a field and compute a class label to each pixel, i.e., determine if that pixel belongs a crop or a weed. We address the problem of analyzing UAV imagery to inspect the status of a field in terms of weed types and spatial crop and weed distribution. Our experiments suggest that our proposed system is able to perform a classification of sugar beets and different weed types in RGB images captured by a commercial low cost UAV system.


Snake robots slither into our hearts, literally

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Choset is the co-director of CMU's Biorobotics Lab that has birthed severals startups based upon his snake technology, including Medrobotics (surgical systems); Hebi Robotics (actuators for modular robots); and Bito Robotics' (autonomous vehicles). Recently, Medrobotics received FDA Clearance for its Flex Robotic System for colorectal procedures in the United States. According to the company's press release, "Medrobotics is the first and only company to offer minimally invasive, steerable and shapeable robotic products for colorectal procedures in the U.S." The Flex system promises a "scarfree" experience in accessing "hard-to-reach anatomy" that is just not possible with straight, rigid instruments. As director of Technion's BioRobotics and BioMechanics Laboratory (BRML) Wolf's lab created the next generation of defensive snake robots for the latest terror threat, subterranean tunnels transporting suicide bombers and kidnappers.


Drones that drive

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"The ability to both fly and drive is useful in environments with a lot of barriers, since you can fly over ground obstacles and drive under overhead obstacles," says PhD student Brandon Araki, lead author on a paper about the system out of CSAIL director Daniela Rus' group. The project builds on Araki's previous work developing a "flying monkey" robot that crawls, grasps, and flies. Rus says that systems like theirs suggest that another approach to creating safe and effective flying cars is not to simply "put wings on cars," but to build on years of research in drone development to add driving capabilities to them. "As we begin to develop planning and control algorithms for flying cars, we are encouraged by the possibility of creating robots with these capabilities at small scale," says Rus.


Google car firm Waymo signs self-driving car deal with rental firm Avis Budget USA Today

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Former Google car project Waymo has signed a deal with Avis Budget Group to service and house a fleet of self-driving vehicles being tested in Phoenix, giving the rental car agency a foothold in the budding market for autonomous transportation.


Survey: Examining perceptions of autonomous vehicles using hypothetical scenarios

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I'm examining the perception of autonomous cars using hypothetical scenarios. Public perception has the potential to impact on the timescale and adoption of autonomous vehicles (AV). Long range autonomous vehicles are expected between 2020 and 2025, with some estimates suggesting fully autonomous vehicles will take over by 2030. This unusual and creative method may provide a model for other types of research surveys in the future where it's difficult to visualise future technologies.


CARNAC program researching autonomous co-piloting

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DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is researching autonomous co-piloting so they can fly without a human pilot on board. RE2, the CMU spin-off located in Pittsburgh, makes mobile manipulators for defense and space. "Our team is excited to incorporate the Company's robotic manipulation expertise with proven technologies in applique systems, vision processing algorithms, and decision making to create a customized application that will allow a wide variety of existing aircraft to be outfitted with a robotic pilot," stated Jorgen Pedersen, president and CEO of RE2 Robotics. This application will open up a whole new market for our mobile robotic manipulator systems."


Assistive robots compete in Bristol

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The Bristol Robotics Laboratory (BRL) will host the first European- Commission funded European Robotics League (ERL) tournament for service robots to be held in the UK. BRL's assisted living research group is developing interactive assistive robots as part of an ambient smart home ecosystem to support independent living. The ERL Service Robots tournament will be held in the BRL's Anchor Robotics Personalised Assisted Living Studio, which was set up to develop, test and evaluate assistive robotic and other technologies in a realistic home environment. The two teams in the Bristol event will be Birmingham Autonomous Robotics Club (BARC) led by Sean Bastable from the School of Computer Science at the University of Birmingham, and the Healthcare Engineering and Assistive Robotics Technology and Services (HEARTS) team from the BRL led by PhD Student Zeke Steer.


Robots Podcast #237: Deep Learning in Robotics, with Sergey Levine

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Levine explains what deep learning is and he discusses the challenges of using deep learning in robotics. In addition to the main interview, Audrow interviewed Levine about his professional path. In his PhD thesis, he developed a novel guided policy search algorithm for learning complex neural network control policies, which was later applied to enable a range of robotic tasks, including end-to-end training of policies for perception and control. He has also developed algorithms for learning from demonstration, inverse reinforcement learning, efficient training of stochastic neural networks, computer vision, and data-driven character animation.


More efficient and safer: How drones are changing the workplace

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Advances in robotics and AI have led to modern commercial drone technology, which is changing the fundamental way enterprises interact with the world. They enable companies to combine the power of scalable computing resources with pervasive, affordable sensors that can go anywhere. This creates an environment in which businesses can make quick, accurate decisions based on enormous datasets derived from the physical world.