Two U.S. consumer advocacy groups urged the Federal Trade Commission on Wednesday to investigate what they called Tesla Inc's'deceptive and misleading' use of the name Autopilot for its assisted-driving technology. The Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog, both non-profit groups, sent a letter to the FTC saying that consumers could be misled into thinking, based on Tesla's marketing and advertising, that Autopilot makes a Tesla vehicle self-driving. Autopilot, released in 2015, is an enhanced cruise-control system that partially automates steering and braking. Tesla has said the use of Autopilot results in 40 percent fewer crashes, a claim the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration repeated in a 2017 report on the first fatality, which occurred in May 2016. Earlier this month, however, the agency said regulators had not assessed the effectiveness of the technology.
The DARPA Robotics Challenge (DRC), which wrapped up in 2015, pitted teams of engineers in a competition to send humanoid robots through an obstacle course emulating a disaster scenario. Now, in Jules Verne fashion, the Department of Defense's most outlandish R&D grant-funding agency is soliciting competitors for a new test. Announced late last year, DARPA's Subterranean Challenge, new details of which are beginning to emerge, will send robots underground to navigate and map subterranean tunnels and caves. "We've reached a crucial point where advances in robotics, autonomy, and even biological systems could permit us to explore and exploit underground environments that are too dangerous for humans," said Fred Kennedy, Director of DARPA's Tactical Technology Office (TTO). Given recent U.S. entanglements, it's easy to see why the program is a priority for the Department of Defense.
Articles about technology and the future of transportation rarely used to get far without mentioning jetpacks: a staple of science fiction from the 1920s onwards, the jetpack became a reality in the 1960s in the shape of devices such as the Bell Rocket Belt. But despite many similar efforts, the skies over our cities remain stubbornly free of jetpack-toting commuters. For a novel form of transport to make a material difference to our lives, several key requirements must be satisfied. Obviously the new technology must work safely, and operate within an appropriate regulatory framework. But public acceptance and solid business models are also vital if a new idea is to move from R&D lab to testbed to early adoption, and eventually into mainstream usage.
Although robotic flying taxi and drone deliveries would take years to become a reality, the US Department of Transportation has moved a step ahead to make this a reality soon. The numbers of companies are designing their systems and technologies and will very soon operate their devices. Amazon.com and Alphabet's Google unit are both developing drones to deliver products. As per the US law, the agency must certify that any business carrying people or cargo for hire is economically'fit, willing and able' to perform. "The FAA still must approve of a drone air carrier's safety in a separate process," stated the DOT.
Google has pressed forward with its effort to provide artificial intelligence solutions to the Department of Defense, despite an internal employee petition against the company's involvement in a pilot program that analyzes drone footage using AI and the resignations of around a dozen employees who objected to the program. But Google isn't the only company partnering with the Department of Defense on Project Maven--the artificial intelligence pilot program at the heart of the controversy--and the Pentagon has explored the possibility of working with other major tech firms on Project Maven. The involvement of other tech companies in Project Maven makes the project seem more like a bakeoff between several leaders in the field of artificial intelligence and less like a Google-led effort. It also raises questions about whether employees at other companies will raise the same ethical objections to the program that Google employees have. DigitalGlobe, a Colorado-based firm that specializes in geospatial imagery, reportedly provides images and algorithms to Project Maven.
Ian Bremmer warns the audience about the dangers of automation at an Intelligence Squared U.S. debate. Can we all agree that Google Duplex demo was eerie? A robot, posing as a human being, scheduled a reservation over the phone. We all knew artificial intelligence was coming, but it was breathtaking to hear software come to life. Before we go any further, let's get our terms straight.
The U.S. Department of Defense will soon spend about $1 billion to deploy robot soldiers in the field, alongside -- and eventually in place of -- human troops. "Within five years, I have no doubt there will be robots in every Army formation," said Bryan McVeigh, the Army's project manager for force protection, as quoted in an article published by Bloomberg. McVeigh reported that there have been about 800 robots put into military service within the last 18 months. "This is an exciting time to be working on robots with the Army." The American branch of the British-based science and technology conglomerate QinetiQ and the Chelmsford, Massachusetts-based Endeavor Robotics have received the lion's share of the contracts to develop the robot warriors.
Artificial intelligence can't replace your doctor yet but it can help diagnose illness. Pfizer Inc. is expanding its AI-enabled analytics toolset to catch diseases that are easy to miss because they're rare or disguised by other illnesses a patient may have. The cloud-based system, called Virtual Analytics Workbench, brings together physicians notes, lab reports, demographics and other patient particulars, as CIO Journal's Sara Castellanos reports. Health care presents exciting opportunities to apply AI, but we're still far from Dr. McCoy's tricorder instant diagnostic device on Star Trek. One obstacle slowing AI's progress generally is a lack of suitable data with which to train algorithms, according to Kate Crawford, a distinguished research professor at New York University and a principal researcher at Microsoft Research New York, She spoke at the WSJ Future of Everything Festival this week.
While the internet spent the last week virtually paralyzed by the Yanny/Laurel debate, the wheels of industry kept turning. Elon Musk promised rides aboard the upcoming Boring Company system would only cost a buck, MIT built a robotic albatross for oceanic observations and Bosch unveiled its anti-skid maneuvering thrusters for high end motorbikes. Numbers, because how else would you know when it's time to get back out on the road again? Behold, whatever the heck this thing is. Once fully developed, it should help drastically reduce the cost of monitoring the health of our oceans (at least near the surface) while severely increasing the amount of open ocean we can monitor at any given time.
A drone footage of the Niger ambush that killed four U.S. and five Nigerian soldiers that surfaced recently shows the service personnel desperately trying to escape and fighting for their lives after friendly Nigerien forces mistook them for the enemy. The video shows the harrowing hours of troops holding off their enemy and waiting for rescue. It shows how the soldiers set up a defensive location on the edge of a marsh and wrote letters to their loved ones thinking they were going to die. Pentagon released the video with explanatory narration and it contains more than 10 minutes of drone footage, animation and file tape that was not made public last week when the military released a portion of the final report on the October attack, the Guardian reported. In a failed attempt to target a local ISIS leader, 46 U.S. and Nigerien troops were involved in the initial mission in the West African nation.