Robots: AI-Alerts


Pilot schools cash in as drone business takes off in Japan

The Japan Times

As Japan positions itself to take advantage of the growing trend in drones, another sector is popping up in the promising market -- drone schools. Industries ranging from agriculture to security are setting their eyes on the benefits of the device. And although the aerial vehicles are capable of autonomous flight, skilled pilots need to be on hand in case something goes wrong. "The industrial use of drones will grow more to replace some work previously handled by humans," said Kazunori Fujiwara, a spokesman at the Drone Pilot Association, a Tokyo-based group that promotes pilot education. "There are still not enough pilots.


Insect-size robots are breaking their tethers

#artificialintelligence

Researchers have created the first flying wireless robotic insect. The news: Behold RoboFly, a laser-powered robot built by University of Washington researchers that weighs in at slightly more than a toothpick. Too small for propellers, this teensy-weensy bot takes off by rapidly flapping its wings. The challenge: Insect-bots require a relatively large amount of power to move their wings fast enough to take off. Batteries are too large and heavy to fly, so previous robots of this size had to be plugged in.


Americans Can't Have Audi's Super Capable Self-Driving System

WIRED

Between Silicon Valley's disruption-happy tech giants and Detroit's suddenly totally on board automakers, it's easy to think of America as the center of the self-driving universe. And so it seems a bit backwards that Audi has decided to release the world's most capable semiautonomous driving feature in … Europe. When the 2019 A8 sedan hits dealer lots later this year, Europeans will have access to Traffic Jam Pilot, which will take control of the car on the highway at speeds below 37 mph; no need for the constant human supervision required by current systems like Tesla's Autopilot. On this side of das pond, however, as CNET reports, too many questions remain about laws that change from one state to the next, insurance requirements, and things like lane lines and road signs that look different in different regions. When the A8 goes on sale here, it won't come with Traffic Jam Pilot.


SpotMini: headless robotic dog to go on sale in 2019

The Guardian

Former Google robotics outfit Boston Dynamics, famed for its advanced humanoid and canine automatons, has announced that it will begin sale of its headless robotic SpotMini next year. At a robotics conference in California, the company's founder Marc Raibert announced that the slightly creepy SpotMini was currently in pre-production and scheduled for large-scale production and general availability from middle of 2019. The 30kg quadruped can operate up to 90 minutes between charges and is capable of being driven semi-autonomously, but also able to navigate fully autonomously using its series of cameras. "SpotMini's development was motivated by thinking about something that could go in an office or accessible place for businesses purposes, or a home eventually," said Raibert on stage at TC Sessions: Robotics at UC Berkeley. The robot's main frame has a quick-disconnect battery, stereo cameras in the front, side cameras and a "butt cam", but it can also be upgraded with a series of attachments on the top, including an articulated arm.


Fundamental equations guide marine robots to optimal sampling sites

MIT News

Observing the world's oceans is increasingly a mission assigned to autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) -- marine robots that are designed to drift, drive, or glide through the ocean without any real-time input from human operators. Critical questions that AUVs can help to answer are where, when, and what to sample for the most informative data, and how to optimally reach sampling locations. MIT engineers have now developed systems of mathematical equations that forecast the most informative data to collect for a given observing mission, and the best way to reach the sampling sites. With their method, the researchers can predict the degree to which one variable, such as the speed of ocean currents at a certain location, reveals information about some other variable, such as temperature at some other location -- a quantity called "mutual information." If the degree of mutual information between two variables is high, an AUV can be programmed to go to certain locations to measure one variable, to gain information about the other.



Sites Selected for Program Aimed at Expanding Drone Flights

U.S. News

President Donald Trump signed a directive last year to establish the "innovation zones" that allow exemptions to some drone regulations, such as flying over people, nighttime flights and flights where the aircraft can't be seen by the operator.


Uber flying taxis get a government boost

USATODAY

Ride-hailing service Uber announced plans for a flying taxi on Wednesday that could provide relief from road congestion for the commuters of the future. This is a rendering of UberÕs VTOL concept., flying car, an electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle. SAN FRANCISCO -- Uber executives continue to grapple with a host of challenges to their ride-hailing business, from taxi industry pushback in cities such as London to political fallout due to a self-driving car death in Arizona. But none of that has put the brakes on the company's futuristic -- and somewhat outlandish -- plans to develop a network of flying taxis, a project that gained a bit more altitude at Tuesday's kickoff of the two-day Uber Elevate conference in Los Angeles. Uber announced new partnerships with government officials and aircraft manufacturers aimed at further developing eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing) craft, which use wing-mounted propellers to provide lift, as with a helicopter, and a tail-mounted propeller to generate forward thrust, as with a plane.


Uber's self-driving car saw the pedestrian but didn't swerve – report

The Guardian

An Uber self-driving test car which killed a woman crossing the street detected her but decided not to react immediately, a report has said. The car was travelling at 40mph (64km/h) in self-driving mode when it collided with 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg at about 10pm on 18 March. Herzberg was pushing a bicycle across the road outside of a crossing. She later died from her injuries. Although the car's sensors detected Herzberg, its software which decides how it should react was tuned too far in favour of ignoring objects in its path which might be "false positives" (such as plastic bags), according to a report from the Information.


Police: Sedan That Collided With Waymo Vehicle Ran Red Light

U.S. News

The safety of self-driving technology has come under recent scrutiny. A pedestrian in the Phoenix suburb of Tempe died in March after she was struck by a self-driving Uber vehicle. It was the first death involving a fully autonomous vehicle.