Robots: Overviews


Artificial intelligence will be a major theme at the world's largest tech show next week

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Techies and gadget geeks alike have been talking about it for years already, but artificial intelligence made serious waves in 2018, showing up prominently in pop culture and our everyday devices. With companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft investing millions in AI, this will ultimately make it one of the major themes to look out for at the annual Consumer Electronics Show, which kicks off in Las Vegas next week. CES is an opportunity to showcase the consumer use for that technology, so much of what will be displayed are "smart" devices or "smart" products -- take, for instance, this smart bathroom with voice-enabled lighting technology. While there are dozens of players in the AI space, we can expect that Google Assistant and Amazon's Alexa are going to dominate the show this year. Both voice assistants are compatible with more than 10,000 devices, which -- as Wired noted-- will make the showroom floor quite noisy.


Simulation to scaled city: zero-shot policy transfer for traffic control via autonomous vehicles

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Using deep reinforcement learning, we train control policies for autonomous vehicles leading a platoon of vehicles onto a roundabout. Using Flow, a library for deep reinforcement learning in micro-simulators, we train two policies, one policy with noise injected into the state and action space and one without any injected noise. In simulation, the autonomous vehicle learns an emergent metering behavior for both policies in which it slows to allow for smoother merging. We then directly transfer this policy without any tuning to the University of Delaware Scaled Smart City (UDSSC), a 1:25 scale testbed for connected and automated vehicles. We characterize the performance of both policies on the scaled city. We show that the noise-free policy winds up crashing and only occasionally metering. However, the noise-injected policy consistently performs the metering behavior and remains collision-free, suggesting that the noise helps with the zero-shot policy transfer. Additionally, the transferred, noise-injected policy leads to a 5% reduction of average travel time and a reduction of 22% in maximum travel time in the UDSSC. Videos of the controllers can be found at https://sites.google.com/view/iccps-policy-transfer.


Is it Safe to Drive? An Overview of Factors, Challenges, and Datasets for Driveability Assessment in Autonomous Driving

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Is it Safe to Drive? Abstract--With recent advances in learning algorithms and hardware development, autonomous cars have shown promise when operating in structured environments under good driving conditions. However, for complex, cluttered and unseen environments withhigh uncertainty, autonomous driving systems still frequently demonstrate erroneous or unexpected behaviors, that could lead to catastrophic outcomes. Autonomous vehicles should ideally adapt to driving conditions; while this can be achieved through multiple routes, it would be beneficial as a first step to be able to characterize Driveability in some quantified form. To this end, this paper aims to create a framework for investigating different factors that can impact driveability. Also, one of the main mechanisms to adapt autonomous driving systems to any driving condition is to be able to learn and generalize from representative scenarios. The machine learning algorithms that currently do so learn predominantly in a supervised manner and consequently need sufficient data for robust and efficient learning. Specifically,we categorize the datasets according to use cases, and highlight the datasets that capture complicated and hazardous driving conditions which can be better used for training robust driving models. Furthermore, by discussions of what driving scenarios are not covered by existing public datasets and what driveability factors need more investigation and data acquisition, this paper aims to encourage both targeted dataset collection and the proposal of novel driveability metrics that enhance the robustness of autonomous cars in adverse environments. I. INTRODUCTION Despite testing autonomous cars in highly controlled settings, thesecars still occasionally fail in making correct decisions, often with catastrophic results According to the accident records, the failures are most likely to happen in complex or unseen driving environments. The fact remains that while autonomous cars can operate well in controlled or structured environments such as highways, they are still far from reliable when operating in cluttered, unstructured or unseen environments [2]. These apply to autonomous vehicles in general. Thesetwo different application fields also suggest that driveability could be quantified in different forms, either as a single metric or a composition of metrics. For example, with ADAS and current Level 2 or 3 autonomy, a scene can be simply defined as driveable if the car can operate safely in autonomous mode. When a non-driveable scene is detected, the autonomous car can hand over control to the human driver in a timely manner [4].


Self-driving car dilemmas reveal that moral choices are not universal

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Self-driving cars are being developed by several major technology companies and carmakers. When a driver slams on the brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian crossing the road illegally, she is making a moral decision that shifts risk from the pedestrian to the people in the car. Self-driving cars might soon have to make such ethical judgments on their own -- but settling on a universal moral code for the vehicles could be a thorny task, suggests a survey of 2.3 million people from around the world. The largest ever survey of machine ethics1, published today in Nature, finds that many of the moral principles that guide a driver's decisions vary by country. For example, in a scenario in which some combination of pedestrians and passengers will die in a collision, people from relatively prosperous countries with strong institutions were less likely to spare a pedestrian who stepped into traffic illegally.


GM's Driverless Car Bet Faces Long Road Ahead

U.S. News

Those expectations are now hitting speed bumps, according to interviews with eight current and former GM and Cruise employees and executives, along with nine autonomous vehicle technology experts familiar with Cruise. These sources say that some unexpected technical challenges - including the difficulty that Cruise cars have identifying whether objects are in motion - mean putting GM's driverless cars on the road in a large scale way in 2019 is looking highly unlikely.


Design Challenges of Multi-UAV Systems in Cyber-Physical Applications: A Comprehensive Survey, and Future Directions

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have recently rapidly grown to facilitate a wide range of innovative applications that can fundamentally change the way cyber-physical systems (CPSs) are designed. CPSs are a modern generation of systems with synergic cooperation between computational and physical potentials that can interact with humans through several new mechanisms. The main advantages of using UAVs in CPS application is their exceptional features, including their mobility, dynamism, effortless deployment, adaptive altitude, agility, adjustability, and effective appraisal of real-world functions anytime and anywhere. Furthermore, from the technology perspective, UAVs are predicted to be a vital element of the development of advanced CPSs. Therefore, in this survey, we aim to pinpoint the most fundamental and important design challenges of multi-UAV systems for CPS applications. We highlight key and versatile aspects that span the coverage and tracking of targets and infrastructure objects, energy-efficient navigation, and image analysis using machine learning for fine-grained CPS applications. Key prototypes and testbeds are also investigated to show how these practical technologies can facilitate CPS applications. We present and propose state-of-the-art algorithms to address design challenges with both quantitative and qualitative methods and map these challenges with important CPS applications to draw insightful conclusions on the challenges of each application. Finally, we summarize potential new directions and ideas that could shape future research in these areas.


A Framework for Robot Programming in Cobotic Environments: First user experiments

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

The increasing presence of robots in industries has not gone unnoticed. Large industrial players have incorporated them into their production lines, but smaller companies hesitate due to high initial costs and the lack of programming expertise. In this work we introduce a framework that combines two disciplines, Programming by Demonstration and Automated Planning, to allow users without any programming knowledge to program a robot. The user teaches the robot atomic actions together with their semantic meaning and represents them in terms of preconditions and effects. Using these atomic actions the robot can generate action sequences autonomously to reach any goal given by the user. We evaluated the usability of our framework in terms of user experiments with a Baxter Research Robot and showed that it is well-adapted to users without any programming experience.


FAQ on the newly established MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing

MIT News

This set of FAQs offers information about the founding of the MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, announced today, and its implications for the MIT community and beyond. Q: What is MIT announcing today that's new? A: Today MIT is announcing a $1 billion commitment to address the global opportunities and challenges presented by the ubiquity of computing -- across industries and academic disciplines -- and by the rise of artificial intelligence. At the heart of this endeavor will be the new MIT Stephen A. Schwarzman College of Computing, made possible by a foundational $350 million gift from Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Blackstone, a leading global asset manager. An additional $300 million has been secured for the College through other fundraising.


42 Cutting Edge Facts About the Past, Present and Future of Artificial Intelligence

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People have been dreaming about Artificial Intelligence for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Well, it's starting to feel like the future is actually here, and AI can be seen almost everyone nowadays. So how should you feel about it? Here are 42 facts about the past, present and future of artificial intelligence to help you decide for yourself. In Ancient Greek mythology, the blacksmith god Hephaestus was believed to have built what were essentially robots. His "automatons," as they were called, were crafted from metal and designed to perform different tasks for him or other gods.


The highD Dataset: A Drone Dataset of Naturalistic Vehicle Trajectories on German Highways for Validation of Highly Automated Driving Systems

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

Example of a recorded highway including bounding boxes and labels of detected vehicles. The color of the bounding boxes indicates the class of the detected object (car: yellow, truck: green). Every vehicle is assigned a unique id for tracking and its speed is estimated over time. Abstract-- Scenario-based testing for the safety validation of highly automated vehicles is a promising approach that is being examined in research and industry. This approach heavily relies on data from real-world scenarios to derive the necessary scenario information for testing. Measurement data should be collected at a reasonable effort, contain naturalistic behavior of road users and include all data relevant for a description of the identified scenarios in sufficient quality. However, the current measurement methods fail to meet at least one of the requirements. Thus, we propose a novel method to measure data from an aerial perspective for scenario-based validation fulfilling the mentioned requirements. Furthermore, we provide a large-scale naturalistic vehicle trajectory dataset from German highways called highD. We evaluate the data in terms of quantity, variety and contained scenarios. Our dataset consists of 16.5 hours of measurements from six locations with 110 000 vehicles, a total driven distance of 45 000 km and 5600 recorded complete lane changes. A technical proof of concept for highly automated driving (HAD) has already been shown in many demonstrations and test drives.