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First commercial autonomous bus services hit Singapore roads

ZDNet

Commercial autonomous bus services have been rolled out for the first time in Singapore, running two routes at Singapore Science Park 2 and Jurong Island. They will operate during a three-month trial during which data will be collected to assess the viability of the on-demand service as well as passenger safety and service reliability and efficiency. Development of the project involved multiple organisations and government agencies, with the aim to drive and accelerate sustainable deployment of robotics in the country. Led collectively under the Alliance for Action (AfA) on Robotics, the initiative also was facilitated by the Economic Development Board and Land Transport Authority. The AfA itself was brought together by the Emerging Stronger Taskforce, established by the government to review how Singapore could stay economically resilient and tap new areas of growth amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.


COVID-inspired touchless tech and innovations to help keep your home germ-free

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

COVID-19 has forced us all to think about new ways to avoid germs at work, while in public places like grocery stores and even in the privacy of our own homes. Fortunately, interior designers and manufacturers are responding to the demand and offering solutions for our homes that are aimed at reducing the spread of germs, viruses and other particles that may be harmful to our health. Industry professionals and home-goods retailers shared some of the more helpful ideas, new technologies and innovations currently available with NorthJersey.com, Smart home technology -- voice and motion-activated appliances and other features -- has grown tremendously in the recent past, and touchless options have expanded since COVID-19 to meet the demand. "Since May 1, the term'touchless' has been the GROHE website's number one searched term," says Stephany Osmas, a spokesperson for the manufacturer of kitchen and bathroom fixtures.


Fukushima College robot wins top prize for nuclear decommissioning

The Japan Times

Fukushima – A robot created by a team from a technology college in northeastern Japan recently won the top prize in a robotics competition that had the theme of decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The Mehikari robot of Fukushima College earned praise for its speed as well as ability to employ different methods to retrieve mock debris similar in size to that at the plant, the site of a nuclear disaster triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. The robot completed the set task in about 2 minutes, the fastest time, in the annual competition aimed at fostering future engineers that was attended by students from 13 colleges belonging to the National Institute of Technology. Sunday's competition was the fifth of its kind. Students in 14 teams from the colleges across the country such as in Osaka and Kumamoto prefectures were tasked this year with developing robots to remove fuel debris from the plant, organizers said.


Hyundai debuts DAL-e: your future customer service robot

ZDNet

Hyundai has introduced DAL-e, an automated robot the company hopes will serve humans in an "intimate and personal way." DAL-e, short for "Drive you, Assist you, Link with you-experience," is a compact robot measuring 1,160x600x600 mm and weighing 80kg that can zip around shop floors and can be programmed to offer "bespoke" customer services. On Monday, the automaker said DAL-e is backed by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), including language processing -- a useful addition to recognize queries and manage our accents -- facial recognition technologies, and mobility. Hyundai is currently demonstrating DAL-e in one of the firm's showrooms in Seoul, South Korea, with a view to use the pilot to improve the customer services robot's AI capabilities. DAL-e "independently communicates with people using precise recognition capabilities and mobility functions," Hyundai says, touting the robot as a means to lighten the load on existing, human staff.


How to Get Started With AI to Boost Your Small Business

#artificialintelligence

A short time ago getting started with AI (Artificial Intelligence) was unmanageable for startups and small businesses. It required a highly skilled data scientist and machine learning experts experimenting with algorithms. But in a very short amount of time things have changed. AI that can recognize objects in images, understand documents and texts, and make high accuracy predictions on your user data can now be done in a few hours and without coding. The same thing that happened to making websites. Back in the day you always needed a developer when you needed a website.


Netflix's 'Sir' is essential Indian cinema

Mashable

In the first month of coronavirus lockdowns in the United States, when everyone began constantly screaming "WHAT SHOULD I WATCH" -- and Mashable began our exhaustive and ongoing streaming guides -- someone asked for Bollywood movie recommendations in one of my group chats. "Objective" was a tough enough requirement -- as someone whose job it is to recommend entertainment to people, I know that it makes no difference how critically acclaimed or carefully crafted something is if it doesn't ultimately fit someone's personal preferences. But "wow" absolutely stumped me, so much that I couldn't endorse the rest of the chat's ample suggestions. I never caught the Bahubali hype, I thought Kapoor & Sons was good but not great, and Dangal's climax was too melodramatic. The only suggestion I gave was 2018's Raazi, about a woman undercover during war between India and Pakistan -- a film that stayed with me long after I left the theater.


What's coming for the channel in 2021

ZDNet

For the channel, 2020 was a tale of two cities. On one hand, customers and governments recognized partners as an essential service and central to their ability to rapidly respond to a worsening pandemic. On the other, customer demand shifted to automation, cloud acceleration, customer/employee experience, and e-commerce/marketplaces, where many technology channel parts were left in the cold. The industry experienced a "K-shaped" recovery where partners who had skills, resources, and prebuilt practices around the business needs of their customers excelled with double- (and sometime triple-) digit growth. Yet many smaller VARs and MSPs were down by double digits, relying on government, vendor, and distributor funding to survive.


5G, fintech and mega-projects: What 2021 will mean for tech in the Middle East

ZDNet

The MENA region is in the middle of a digital transformation, which 2020 and COVID-19 has only accelerated. I asked five experts to share the tech trends they see influencing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) this year, with digital payments, greater investment in AI and mobile, coupled with the need for greater focus on cybersecurity, all getting a mention. Among the things to look out for on the Middle East tech scene in 2021 is the Expo 2020 event, which is due to take place in Dubai in the UAE for six months starting from October says Matthew Reed, practice leader, Middle East and Africa & Asia Pacific, at Omdia. "The event, which was postponed last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but will still be known as Expo 2020, is expected to showcase advanced technologies and applications including autonomous vehicles, smart city services, and space exploration, with the latter based on the UAE's launch of an unmanned spacecraft to Mars in July 2020. "Saudi Arabia also has futuristic plans and in early January it unveiled the outlines of a major new city project, The Line, a 170-kilometre urban development that will be entirely powered by renewable energy and will be "hyper-connected though a digital framework incorporating artificial intelligence and robotics, according to the launch website. "The Saudi authorities are also increasingly keen to encourage investment and growth in the country's non-oil business sector, and that is likely to accelerate efforts to upgrade connectivity and technology services for enterprises over the year ahead." The fintech landscape in MENA is rapidly evolving from a focus on digital payments to expanding access to finance, both consumer and SME lending, says Ayman Ismail, Jameel chair of entrepreneurship, The American University in Cairo. "The past three years were mostly about establishing infrastructure for digital payments.


How to Fix the Vaccine Rollout - Issue 95: Escape

Nautilus

At a moment when vaccines promise to end the coronavirus pandemic, emerging new variants threaten to accelerate it. The astonishingly fast development of safe and effective vaccines is being stymied by the glacial pace of actual vaccinations while 3,000 Americans die each day. Minimizing death and suffering from COVID-19 requires vaccinating the most vulnerable Americans first and fast, but the vaccine rollout has been slow and inequitable. Prioritization algorithms have led to the most privileged being prioritized over the most exposed, and strict adherence to priority pyramids has been disastrously slow. Yet without prioritization, vaccines go to those with greatest resources rather than to those at greatest risk.


The future of robotics research: Is there room for debate?

Robohub

As the field of robotics matures, our community must grapple with the multifaceted impact of our research; in this article, we describe two previous workshops hosting robotics debates and advocate for formal debates to become an integral, standalone part of major international conferences, whether as a plenary session or as a parallel conference track. As roboticists build increasingly complex systems for applications spanning manufacturing, personal assistive technologies, transportation and others, we face not only technical challenges, but also the need to critically assess how our work can advance societal good. Our rapidly growing and uniquely multidisciplinary field naturally cultivates diverse perspectives, and informal dialogues about our impact, ethical responsibilities, and technologies. Indeed, such discussions have become a cornerstone of the conference experience, but there has been relatively little formal programming in this direction at major technical conferences like the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) and Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) Conference. To fill this void, we organized two workshops entitled "Debates on the Future of Robotics Research" at ICRA 2019 and 2020, inspired by a similar workshop at the 2018 International Conference on Machine Learning (ICML).