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Agrobotics startup Root AI acquired by AppHarvest for $60M

#artificialintelligence

Root AI, a Somerville, Mass.-based startup developing the Virgo harvesting robot for indoor farms, was acquired by AppHarvest for $60 million. AppHarvest is investing approximately $10 million in cash and the remaining balance in AppHarvest common shares to acquire Root AI. Founded in 2018, Root AI's 19 full-time employees are expected to join AppHarvest's technology group. Root AI co-founder and CEO Josh Lessing will take on the role of CTO for AppHarvest. He will take the lead in continuing to develop the robots and AI capabilities for the network of indoor farms AppHarvest is building.


Autonomous Vehicle Safety Standards Evolving in US and Worldwide - AI Trends

#artificialintelligence

The state of autonomous vehicle safety standard regulation in the US today is between two presidential administrations, with the Trump Administration-era regulations issued Jan. 14 likely to be soon superseded by policies of the Biden Administration. The Trump Administration rules would allow self-driving vehicle manufacturers to skip certain federal crash safety requirements in vehicles not designed to carry people, marking the first major update to federal safety standards to accommodate innovations of driverless technology, according to an account in The Detroit News.This would apply for example to the delivery vehicle from startup Nuro, which has no driver or passengers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated the rule would save automakers and consumers $5.8 billion in 2050. "With more than 90% of serious crashes caused by driver error, it's vital that we remove unnecessary barriers to technology that could help save lives," stated then NHTSA Deputy Administrator James Owens. On Jan. 25, Steve Cliff, deputy executive officer of the California Air Resources Board, was named deputy administrator of the NHTSA. Ariel Wolf, counsel to the Self-Driving Coalition, said of the Jan. 14 announcement that the NHTSA rule was a "highly significant" development in safety rules for self-driving vehicles.


Robots threaten jobs less than fearmongers claim

#artificialintelligence

THE COFFEESHOP is an engine of social mobility. Barista jobs require soft skills and little experience, making them a first port of call for young people and immigrants looking for work. So it may be worrying that robotic baristas are spreading. RC Coffee, which bills itself "Canada's first robotic café", opened in Toronto last summer. "[T]he barista-to-customer interaction is somewhat risky despite people's best efforts to maintain a safe environment," the firm says.


Talking Robotics' seminars of January – April 2021 (with videos and even a musical summary!)

Robohub

Talking Robotics is a series of virtual seminars about Robotics and its interaction with other relevant fields, such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Design Research, Human-Robot Interaction, among others. They aim to promote reflections, dialogues, and a place to network. In this seminars compilation, we bring you 7 talks (and a half?) from current roboticists for your enjoyment. Filipa Correia received a M.Sc. in Computer Science from University of Lisbon, Portugal, 2015. She is currently a junior researcher at GAIPSLab and she is pursuing a Ph.D. on Human-Robot Interaction at University of Lisbon, Portugal.


Toyota's new Mirai and Lexus LS models come with Advanced Drive assistance tech

Engadget

Toyota has launched Advanced Drive, a new driver assistance technology, with the latest Toyota Mirai and Lexus LS vehicles. Advanced Drive is capable of Level 2 autonomy and can free the driver from operating the accelerator, brakes and even the steering wheel -- under certain traffic conditions and with the driver's supervision, that is. It was designed for highway driving only, and like other available assistance technologies today, it doesn't have full self-driving capabilities yet. Advanced Drive uses data from the vehicle's telescopic camera and LiDAR, as well as information from high-precision maps to detect other vehicles in the same lane. So long as a driver sets the destination in the navigation system, the technology will be able to assess situations and make decisions when it comes to changing lanes, maintaining distance from other vehicles, navigating lane splits and overtaking other vehicles.



What will self-driving trucks mean for truck drivers?

BBC News

In the US alone, the American Trucking Association estimates there are more than 3.5 million truck drivers on the roads, with nearly 8 million people employed across the wider industry. Census Bureau statistics show that trucking is the most common job in 29 US states, ahead of farming, teaching and secretarial positions.


RPA Trends for 2021 - Infographics

#artificialintelligence

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology adoption has gained during the past couple of years. If anything, the pandemic gave organizations added motivation to automate in general - especially around mundane tasks, the type that are in RPA's sweet spot. Amidst the continued fever pitch around RPA, we asked a range of experts to share their insights on what the new year will bring. Look into this infographics which gives trends of RPA in 2021.


This Wobbly Robot Wants to Be Your Pet's New Playmate

WIRED

I've been living with a pet-friendly robot for the past few months that's made to entertain cats. Enabot's Ebo Pro is a circular bot that fits in the palm of your hand with a cute pixelated digital face. Like a fun WALL-E knockoff, it even lets out an excited "Eebow" in a childlike robotronic voice as it powers up. It has wheels to move, a camera to see, a laser to tease your cat with, and a built-in speaker so you can chat with your pet from afar (or kids, as the website notes). You can use the Ebo Pro in a few ways: Drive it manually using the controls in its app, turn on automatic mode, or set schedules for it to activate at certain times of the day and play with your pet.


Automated COVID-19 PCR-testing system launched

The Japan Times

The system uses robots to conduct polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests, significantly reducing infection risks for technicians. "The system will reduce the burden on medical workers, who are becoming exhausted from measures aimed at preventing infections," especially as Japan braces for a fourth wave of COVID-19 cases, Hiroyasu Ito, a professor at the university, said. The system, developed by Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., is housed in a container 2.5 meters wide and 12.2 meters long, and has 13 robotic arms. It conducts all the steps required to test samples for coronavirus infections without human intervention. The university is aiming to make it possible for the system to produce test results in just 80 minutes.