Robots


Drones that dodge obstacles without guidance can pursue you like paparazzi

MIT Technology Review

Artificially intelligent drones are coming--and they're going to shoot some really sick snowboarding videos along the way. A startup called Skydio is launching the first drone capable of visually imprinting on a person, a bit like a needy duckling, and then following him or her around, deftly navig...


Every Study We Could Find on What Automation Will Do to Jobs, in One Chart

MIT Technology Review

You've seen the headlines: "Robots Will Destroy Our Jobs--and We're Not Ready for It." "You Will Lose Your Job to a Robot--and Sooner Than You Think." Such stories are tempting to take at face value. Who wouldn't want to know if their livelihood, or that of their children, will soon be in jeopardy? Here's the problem: the findings cited emanate from a wide array of studies released by companies, think tanks, and research institutions. And their prognostications are all over the map.


China wants to make the chips that will add AI to any gadget

MIT Technology Review

In an office at Tsinghua University in Beijing, a computer chip is crunching data from a nearby camera, looking for faces stored in a database. Seconds later, the same chip, called Thinker, is handling voice commands in Chinese. Thinker is designed to support neural networks. But what's special is how little energy it uses--just eight AA batteries are enough to power it for a year. Thinker can dynamically tailor its computing and memory requirements to meet the needs of the software being run.


And the Award for Most Nauseating Self-Driving Car Goes to …

MIT Technology Review

In many ways this year's CES looked a lot more like an autonomous-car show than a consumer electronics show. There were announcements aplenty from the likes of Ford, Baidu, Toyota, and others about self-driving vehicles, upcoming driving tests, and new partners. In a parking lot across from the Las Vegas Convention Center, several companies offered rides; you could even schedule a ride in a self-driving Lyft through the company's app and get dropped off at one of many casinos on the Strip. A couple of miles away in downtown Las Vegas, an eight-passenger autonomous shuttle bus ran in a loop around Fremont Street. It was part of an ongoing test between commuter transit company Keolis, autonomous-car maker Navya, and the city.


And the Award for Most Nauseating Self-Driving Car Goes to …

MIT Technology Review

In many ways this year's CES looked a lot more like an autonomous-car show than a consumer electronics show. There were announcements aplenty from the likes of Ford, Baidu, Toyota, and others about self-driving vehicles, upcoming driving tests, and new partners. In a parking lot across from the Las Vegas Convention Center, several companies offered rides; you could even schedule a ride in a self-driving Lyft through the company's app and get dropped off at one of many casinos on the Strip. A couple of miles away in downtown Las Vegas, an eight-passenger autonomous shuttle bus ran in a loop around Fremont Street. It was part of an ongoing test between commuter transit company Keolis, autonomous-car maker Navya, and the city.


The Biggest Technology Failures of 2017

MIT Technology Review

MIT Technology Review spends most of the year identifying and writing about the most important emerging technologies. One day each year we highlight the worst of the lot. Some ideas just do not belong together. This year you can add "DIY--gene therapy" to the list. Josiah Zayner did it on video in August, injecting himself with a syringe full of the DNA-slashing chemicals known as CRISPR, in a blend he concocted himself to strengthen his muscles.


Robots Won't Save the U.K. from a Brexit Labor Shortage

MIT Technology Review

When Britain leaves the European Union, many immigrants will be forced out of the country. But many of those people provide much-needed labor, and calls to automate the jobs they leave behind are impractical. Eighteen months after the U.K. voted to leave the EU, many details of the exit remain unnegotiated. But the process is broadly expected to have one big impact: a clampdown on immigration from EU countries. In fact, immigration has already declined since the vote, with the U.K.'s Office of National Statistics reporting that net migration into the U.K. is down from 336,000 in the 12 months preceding June 2016 to 230,000 in the 12 months preceding June 2017.


Roomba to Rule the Smart Home

MIT Technology Review

Smart homes are one of those technology ideas that never seem to catch on, despite the efforts of technology heavyweights like Amazon and Google parent Alphabet. Could Roomba, the popular robotic vacuum cleaner, be the missing link that finally makes home automation useful and convenient? The key technology isn't the device's dirt-sucking aptitude, but its ability to create navigational maps of people's homes through an onboard camera, sensors, and software. The company added the feature to its more expensive models in 2015 so the robots could clean more efficiently, and it has been refined since. Soon Roombas will be able to recognize which rooms they're in and identify large objects located in those rooms, says iRobot CEO Colin Angle.


Building Tomorrow's Robots

MIT Technology Review

When Brandon Araki arrived at MIT in 2015 as a master's candidate in mechanical engineering, he brought along the picobug, a tiny robot that can fly, crawl, and grasp small objects. Before Araki joined Daniela Rus's Distributed Robotics Lab (DRL), he'd been working with collaborators at several universities on the diminutive autonomous machine, which weighs 30 grams and fits in the palm of his hand. He wasn't quite sure what he might do next with the picobug, but when his new boss watched it in action, she was smitten. "I want a hundred of them!" Rus said. This request wasn't just greedy excitement.


How We Feel About Robots That Feel

MIT Technology Review

Octavia, a humanoid robot designed to fight fires on Navy ships, has mastered an impressive range of facial expressions. When she's turned off, she looks like a human-size doll. She has a smooth white face with a snub nose. Her plastic eyebrows sit evenly on her forehead like two little capsized canoes. When she's on, however, her eyelids fly open and she begins to display emotion.