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Rolls-Royce air taxi idea has propulsion but needs airframe

ZDNet

Rolls-Royce has unveiled the propulsion side of an electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) concept, which the company said could be used from personal transport through to military applications. The vehicle would be able to seat four or five people and would use a M250 gas turbine engine to power six low-noise electric propellers, as well as charge a battery. The M250 would be housed in the rear of the aircraft, with the company stating it delivered the first version of the series over 50 years ago and currently more than 16,000 remain in service from a delivery total of over 31,000. "In this hybrid-EVTOL configuration, it could carry four or five passengers at speeds up to 250mph for approximately 500 miles, would not require recharging -- as the battery is charged by the gas turbine -- and would be able to utilise existing infrastructure such as heliports and airports," Rolls-Royce said. The concept could be reality by "early to mid 2020s", the company claimed; however, it would need an airframe and partners to work on parts of the electrical system.


Microsoft just bought an AI startup to try to make the technology easier to use in the real world

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Bonsai aims to make artificial intelligence technology easier to use in the real world. Microsoft has agreed to acquire Bonsai, a startup focusing on the hot field of artificial intelligence. Bonsai will become part of Microsoft's commercial AI offering through its own Project Brainwave foundation and its Azure cloud computing service, said Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft's corporate vice president of business AI, in a blog post Wednesday. "Bonsai has achieved some remarkable breakthroughs with their approach that will have a profound impact on AI development," he said. AI -- especially areas called machine learning and neural networks -- is an immensely important development in computing.


Cloud Computing: Microsoft Azure announces major AI, IoT moves

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Microsoft is making another huge play, but this time it's in the world of IoT (Internet of Things) and AI (artificial intelligence). Microsoft Azure, the company's cloud computing service, is making a huge splash into the fast-growing IoT enterprise. In getting into IoT space, the Redmond-based company [VIDEO] has teamed with C3, a Silicon Valley-based IoT company. The two tech companies plan to work on technologies to help enterprise customers accelerate their IoT and AI development, according to SDX Central. Reports by SDX Central and Business Wire presented most of the information used in this article.


Artificial Intelligence to Reach a New Level With Infusion of Blockchain Technology Innovation

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As artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and platforms become integral to advanced operations in nearly every industry, blockchain is inserting itself as a means to enhance AI applications in both form and function. Blockchain has the potential to allow AI technologies to become more collaborative in nature and therefore increase their operating efficiency. Additionally, the potential for bolstered revenue streams is also apparent, as blockchain is projected to grow to $20 billion by 2024 according to Transparency Market Research and the Grand View Research projects the AI market will be worth more than $35 billion by 2025. As previously noted, leaders in the AI landscape are turning to blockchain to finetune various applications. Active tech companies in the markets this week include Gopher Protocol Inc. (OTC:GOPH), Overstock.com



Intel Starts R&D Effort in Probabilistic Computing for AI

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Intel announced today that it is forming a strategic research alliance to take artificial intelligence to the next level. Autonomous systems don't have good enough ways to respond to the uncertainties of the real world, and they don't have a good enough way to understand how the uncertainties of their sensors should factor into the decisions they need to make. According to Intel CTO Mike Mayberry the answer is "probabilistic computing", which he says could be AI's next wave. IEEE Spectrum: What motivated this new research thrust? Mike Mayberry: We're trying to figure out what the next wave of AI is.


NetSpeed and Esperanto Partner to Power SoCs for Artificial Intelligence

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AI applications demand new architectures to meet the need for unprecedented performance, sophisticated functionality and ultra-low power. Interconnect technology is a critical component of these architectures. "We are still in the early stages of AI maturity, but what we've learned is that sophisticated neural networks require tremendous performance," said Linley Gwennap, principal analyst at The Linley Group. "Generating this level of performance often requires a large number of cores, but these architectures can be difficult to design and test. NoC technology, such as NetSpeed's, has become an important enabling technology for AI because it automates the process of connecting CPUs and accelerators on a complex SoC." "Esperanto is putting thousands of processors and accelerators on a single chip, and our challenge was how to interconnect them.


Future Factory: How Technology Is Transforming Manufacturing

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From advanced robotics in R&D labs to computer vision in warehouses, technology is making an impact on every step of the manufacturing process. Lights-out manufacturing refers to factories that operate autonomously and require no human presence. These robot-run settings often don't even require lighting, and can consist of several machines functioning in the dark. While this may sound futuristic, these types of factories have been a reality for more than 15 years. Famously, the Japanese robotics maker FANUC has been operating a "lights-out" factory since 2001, where robots are building other robots completely unsupervised for nearly a month at a time. "Not only is it lights-out," said FANUC VP Gary Zywiol, "we turn off the air conditioning and heat too." To imagine a world where robots do all the physical work, one simply needs to look at the most ambitious and technology-laden factories of today. For example, the Dongguan City, China-based phone part maker Changying Precision Technology Company has created an unmanned factory. Everything in the factory -- from machining equipment to unmanned transport trucks to warehouse equipment -- is operated by computer-controlled robots. The technical staff monitors activity of these machines through a central control system. Where it once required about 650 workers to keep the factory running, robot arms have cut Changying's human workforce to less than a tenth of that, down to just 60 workers. A general manager for the company said that it aims to reduce that number to 20 in the future. As industrial technology grows increasingly pervasive, this wave of automation and digitization is being labelled "Industry 4.0," as in the fourth industrial revolution. So, what does the future of factories hold? Manufacturers predict overall efficiency to grow annually over the next five years at 7x the rate of growth seen since 1990.


What You Need to Know About IBM's New Artificial Intelligence Platform

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IBM (NYSE:IBM) is in the middle of reinventing itself from a hardware company that sells servers to businesses, to a services company that provides platforms, analytics, and cloud computing to its customers. Sure, it still sells hardware, but IBM is continually looking ahead to a world where service revenue dominates its top line. To that end, IBM recently made an announcement about a new artificial intelligence (AI) platform it's launching, called Cloud Private for Data. The name doesn't necessarily roll off the tongue, but IBM says that this new data science and machine learning platform will make it easier for its customers to make data-driven decisions. "Designed to help companies uncover previously unobtainable insights from their data, the platform is also designed to enable users to build and exploit event-driven applications capable of analyzing the torrents of data from things like IoT sensors, online commerce, mobile devices, and more," the company said in a press release.


IBM Tool Seeks to Bridge AI Skills Gap

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Deep-Learning-as-a-Service, unveiled at IBM's annual IT industry conference in Las Vegas, seeks to lower barriers to deploying AI and deep-learning tools, a complex and painstakingly repetitive process that requires large amounts of computing power, the company said. The new service allows companies to upload data in Watson Studio, IBM's cloud-native platform for data scientists, developers and business analysts. There, they can create deep-learning algorithms for datasets – known in AI parlance as a "neural network" – using a drag-and-drop interface to select, configure, design and code the network. IBM also has automated the repetitive process of fine-tuning deep-learning algorithms, with successive training runs started, monitored and stopped automatically. For many firms, the complexity of creating smart algorithms from scratch has kept them from leveraging AI to parse massive stores of data for business value, the company said.