Robots: AI-Alerts


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.


Fast-food 'chefbots': Hype or a sign of industry change?

The Japan Times

BOSTON – Robots can't yet bake a souffle or fold a burrito, but they can cook up vegetables and grains and spout them into a bowl -- and are doing just that at a new fast casual restaurant in Boston. Seven autonomously swirling cooking pots -- what the restaurant calls a "never-before-seen robotic kitchen" -- hum behind the counter at Spyce, which opened Thursday in the city's downtown. Push a touch-screen menu to purchase a $7.50 meal called "Hearth." A blend of Brussels sprouts, quinoa, kale and sweet potatoes tumbles from hoppers and into one of the pots. The pot heats the food using magnetic induction, then tips to dunk the cooked meal into a bowl.


A Robotics Startup Perishes, and It's Got Tales to Tell

WIRED

TickTock has run out of time. Don't fret if you don't know what that is--after all, the startup launched just a year ago. After TickTock's collapse, though, co-founder and ex-Googler Ryan Hickman is talking candidly about what it's like to build an unwanted robot. Well, a robot unwanted at least by venture capitalists--some 200 investors that TickTock tried to convince to cough up cash before the startup closed down. But with the demise of TickTock come valuable insights into the robotic home of the future, and which companies will end up conquering it.


ILA 2018: Drone technology showcase in Berlin air show

Al Jazeera

Many of the world's leading aircraft makers are in Germany for the ILA Berlin Air Show, with the focus this year on drone technology. Its development is helping spark a revolution in sustainable flight.