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The National Guard's Fire-Mapping Drones Get an AI Upgrade

WIRED

More than 3 million acres of California have burned this year, and 18,000 firefighters are still battling 27 major wildfires across the sooty state sometimes called golden. And every day, high above the smoke, a military drone with a wingspan roughly 10 times that of LeBron James feeds infrared video of the flames back to March Air Reserve Base, east of Los Angeles, to help map the destruction and assist firefighters. These MQ-9 "Reaper" drones don't usually fly domestic--they're on standby in case the Air Force needs them for overseas reconnaissance. But climate change has helped make crisscrossing California gathering video a new fall tradition for the 163rd Attack Wing. Its drones have helped map wildfires every year since 2017, thanks to special permission from the secretary of defense.


Scientists create a microscopic robot that 'walks'

BBC News - Technology

Scientists at Cornell University have created a tiny micro-robot that "walks" using four legs. Invisible to the naked eye, 10 of the computer chip bots could fit within the full stop at the end of this sentence. Their legs can be independently triggered to bend using laser light. It would take less than a week to make a swarm of a million robots, which Itai Cohen and Paul McEuen Labs hope could be adapted to become a medical tool. They are small enough to be injected into the body and Prof Cohen hopes that eventually robots like these could be designed to hunt down and destroy cancer cells.


In Isolating Times, Can Robo-Pets Provide Comfort?

NYT > Technology

Now activities and communal meals have vanished. Aside from one quick visit in the lobby, she has not seen her daughter in person in six months; they communicate through 15-minute video calls when staff members can arrange them. "She's more isolated in her room now," Dr. Spangler said. "And she misses having a dog." Knowing that her mother couldn't manage pet care, even if the residence had permitted animals, Dr. Spangler looked online for the robotic pets she had heard about.


A robot triumphs in a curling match against elite humans

#artificialintelligence

A robot equipped with artificial intelligence (AI) can excel at the Olympic sport of curling -- and even beat top-level human teams. Success requires precision and strategy, but the game is less complex than other real-world applications of robotics. That makes curling a useful test case for AI technologies, which often perform well in simulations but falter in real-world scenarios with changing conditions. Using a method called adaptive deep reinforcement learning, Seong-Whan Lee and his colleagues at Korea University in Seoul created an algorithm that learns through trial and error to adjust a robot's throws to account for changing conditions, such as the ice surface and the positions of stones. The team's robot, nicknamed Curly, needed a few test throws to calibrate itself to the curling rink where it was to compete.


Magnetic microbots can hook up brain cells to make a neural network

New Scientist

Tiny robots that can transport individual neurons and connect them to form active neural circuits could help us study brain disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. The robots, which were developed by Hongsoo Choi at the Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea and his colleagues, are 300 micrometres long and 95 micrometre wide. They are made from a polymer coated with nickel and titanium and their movement can be controlled with external magnetic fields.


Teaching offshore robots to speak our language

BBC News - Technology

The ORCA Hub is led by the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics, a partnership between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Edinburgh. The consortium also includes Imperial College London, Oxford and Liverpool universities.


Amazon launches spherical Echo and flying camera drone

The Guardian

Amazon has announced a full range of new spherical Echo devices, new motorised smart display, a camera drone that flies around your house, a game-streaming service and more. In a streaming presentation, the firm showed off a smorgasbord of new devices from its various brands, including Ring, Eero Fire and Echo. The new standard Echo ditches its cylindrical shape for a fabric-covered ball design with Amazon's characteristic light-ring in the base to indicate when it is listening to you. It has a new 3in woofer and two tweeters with Dolby processing for stereo sound and automatic adjustment to the acoustics of your room. It also has Amazon's new AZ1 artificial intelligence chip for greater local processing of voice and other actions for increased privacy and speed.


We're not ready for AI, says the winner of a new $1m AI prize

#artificialintelligence

Regina Barzilay, a professor at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), is the first winner of the Squirrel AI Award for Artificial Intelligence for the Benefit of Humanity, a new prize recognizing outstanding research in AI. Barzilay started her career working on natural-language processing. After surviving breast cancer in 2014, she switched her…


Elon Musk says Tesla's full self-driving Autopilot is coming soon and it's 'clearly going to work'

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

The full-self driving car is about to take a step closer to reality. Tesla CEO Elon Musk said Tuesday that the test version of company's Autopilot system will be released in "a month or so." While he didn't describe its capabilities, Musk said that once it's out, "you'll see what it's like. It's clearly going to work." A number of startups and established automakers have been racing to develop self-driving technology.


Machine Vision: You CAN Fix What You Can't See - Railway Age

#artificialintelligence

RAILWAY AGE, SEPTEMBER 2020 ISSUE: Whether it's the track structure or the equipment that operates on it, there are many things that the naked eye cannot readily see. Increasingly, machine vision technology is becoming the best way to identify potential flaws before they lead to failures. "The various machine vision technologies deployed detect thousands of conditions each year that could potentially lead to accidents," says Robert Coakley, Director of Business Development, ENSCO Rail. Compared to manual visual inspections, he says, autonomous machine vision offers advantages of speed, reduced track occupancy, inspection frequency and consistency. The equipment is installed on revenue service trains, can perform inspections at track speed and does not require the additional occupancy of a hi-rail vehicle.