Robots: AI-Alerts

Unmanned: a video game about the unseen horror of drone warfare

The Guardian

According to mainstream video games, modern warfare is all about cyborg arms, laser shields and jarheads blowing up baddies under the guidance of recognisable character actors. However, the frenetic antics of the Call of Duty series and its ilk are behind the times. The drone pilot protagonist of 2012's free indie game Unmanned is a more accurate representation of a modern soldier: a man who plays video games with his son every weekend, and who has also killed countless foreigners from a grey-walled cubicle in Nevada. You play an American warrior, square of jaw and beefy of build, who works from an office out in the desert. A click of his mouse sends tons of missile plummeting from anonymous drone planes with an eerie blank space where you'd expect to see a cockpit.

The Robots Are Coming To Las Vegas


Robotic arms wait to make drinks at The Tipsy Robot in Las Vegas. Robotic arms wait to make drinks at The Tipsy Robot in Las Vegas. At the Vdara Hotel and Spa in Las Vegas, robots are at the front line of room service. "Jett" and "Fetch" are delivery robots, designed to look like dogs, each about three feet high. They can bring items from the hotel's cafe right to your room.

Feely finger phone crawls across desk

BBC News

A touch-sensitive robotic finger that can be attached to smartphones has been developed by a researcher in France.

HyQ Steps Across Gaps Despite Getting Yanked Around

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

If your robotics lab has a quadruped, it's become almost a requirement that you post a video of the robot not falling over when walking across some kind of particularly challenging surface. And quadrupeds are getting quite good at keeping their feet, even while negotiating uneven terrain like steps or rubble. One way to do this is without any visual perception at all, simply reacting to obstacles "blindly" by positioning legs and feet to keep the body of the robot upright and moving in the right direction. This can work for terrain that's continuous, but when you start looking at more dangerous situations like gaps that a robot's leg could get stuck in, being able to use vision to plan a safe path becomes necessary. Vision, though, is a real bag of worms, kettle of fish, bushel of geese, or whatever your own favorite tricky metaphor is.

Honda's Helping GM on Its Quest to Deliver Self-Driving Cars


Cruise, the self-driving car arm of General Motors, has an unexpected new ally in its bid to keep its corporate master at the forefront of an industry enduring its greatest period of change in generations: Honda. In a deal announced today, the Japanese automaker will help San Francisco-based Cruise and its Detroit owner develop and mass produce a new sort vehicle for a world in which human drivers are no longer needed. Honda is opening its checkbook too, pledging to spend $2 billion on the project over 12 years, and immediately putting a $750 million equity investment into Cruise. For Honda, the partnership offers entree into a self-driving space where it has thus far spent little time and effort. For Cruise and GM, the newcomer adds engineering know-how, especially with regard to interior design.

Honda and GM partner for 'ultimate engineering challenge' -- a new autonomous vehicle

Washington Post

Self-driving car company Cruise Automation is rushing to create a new autonomous vehicle with the help of one of the largest names in the automotive industry. Honda said it will invest $2.75 billion into Cruise's autonomous vehicle operations over the next 12 years, an infusion that arrives several months after the Japanese firm SoftBank announced a $2.25 billion investment in the company. Both investments bring the four-year-old company's valuation to a whopping $14.6 billion, General Motors said in a news release Wednesday. Cruise Automation -- which is already building a fleet of autonomous vehicles that could hit American streets as early as next year -- is a subsidiary of GM. The Detroit automaker's stock was up nearly 2 percent Wednesday.

Three robot advances that'll be needed for DARPA's new underground challenge

MIT Technology Review

This week, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced a challenge to push the limits of robotic design and control. DARPA's Subterranean Challenge will require teams to have robots maneuver objects through three different environments: a series of caves, a bunker-like "urban environment," and a labyrinth of confined tunnels. While the robots will be remote-controlled, they'll need some serious autonomous skills. They will need to rapidly map and explore unfamiliar environments even when communications are spotty and conditions are challenging for sensors. The teams will be allowed to use as many different types of robot as they like, but this will mean dealing with greater complexity in communications and coordination.

Iowa TV Station Uses Drones to Capture Video

U.S. News

"Local authorities have established areas around the airport that are safe to fly for drone operations and qualify for automatic authorization," an FAA spokesman said. "The local air traffic control facility creates gridded maps called UAS Facility Maps that define a maximum height for which an operation could be considered safe for automatic authorization. Also, as drone pilots plan their flights, they are reminded of restrictions in the area and notifications they should be aware of."

Will 5G be necessary for self-driving cars?

BBC News

Proponents of 5G say it will offer ultra-fast connections, speedier data downloads, and be able to handle millions more connections than 4G mobile networks can cope with today. One use for 5G is self-driving cars, but will they really need it? The telecoms industry envisions autonomous cars equipped with hundreds of sensors collecting and receiving information all at once over a network. It calls this concept "Vehicle-to-everything" (V2X). To achieve this, the car needs to detect blind spots and avoid collisions with people, animals or other vehicles on the road.

Speech recognition is tech's next giant leap, says Google

The Guardian

AI robots and self-driving cars might steal the headlines, but the next big leap in technology will be advances in voice services, according to Google's head of search, Ben Gomes, who says that a better understanding of common language is crucial to the future of the internet. "Speech recognition and the understanding of language is core to the future of search and information," said Gomes . "But there are lots of hard problems such as understanding how a reference works, understanding what'he', 'she' or'it' refers to in a sentence. It's not at all a trivial problem to solve in language and that's just one of the millions of problems to solve in language." Gomes was speaking to the Guardian ahead of Google's 20th anniversary on 24 September, more than seven years after Google launched its first voice service as simple speech-to-text for search.