Floating Cell Towers Are the Next Step for 5G

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

As the world races to deploy speedy 5G mobile networks on the ground, some companies remain focused on floating cell towers in the sky. During the final session of the sixth annual Brooklyn 5G Summit on Thursday, Silicon Valley and telecom leaders discussed whether aerial drones and balloons could finally begin providing commercial mobile phone and Internet service from the air. That same day, Alphabet subsidiary Loon, a balloon-focused graduate of the Google X research lab, unveiled a strategic partnership with Softbank's HAPSMobile to leverage both solar-powered balloons and drones to expand mobile Internet coverage and aid in deploying 5G networks. No high-altitude network connectivity services have taken off commercially so far, but some Brooklyn 5G Summit speakers were optimistic that it would happen soon. "The opportunity is in our hands in terms of truly leveraging 5G in conjunction with the massive paradigm shift when it comes to UAS--drones--and also satellites," said Volker Ziegler, CTO at Nokia Bell Labs.

A rubber computer eliminates the last hard components from soft robots


A soft robot, attached to a balloon and submerged in a transparent column of water, dives and surfaces, then dives and surfaces again, like a fish chasing flies. Soft robots have performed this kind of trick before. But unlike most soft robots, this one is made and operated with no hard or electronic parts. Inside, a soft, rubber computer tells the balloon when to ascend or descend. For the first time, this robot relies exclusively on soft digital logic.

Shot to the Gut: "Robotic" Pill Sails Through Human Safety Study

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

An average person with type 1 diabetes and no insulin pump sticks a needle into their abdomen between 700 and 1,000 times per year. A person with the hormone disorder acromegaly travels to a doctor's office to receive a painful injection into the muscles of the butt once a month. Someone with multiple sclerosis may inject the disease-slowing interferon beta drug three times per week, varying the injection site among the arms, legs and back. Medical inventor Mir Imran, holder of more than 400 patents, spent the last seven years working on an alternate way to deliver large drug molecules like these, and his solution--an unusual "robotic" pill--was recently tested in humans. The RaniPill capsule works like a miniature Rube Goldberg device: Once swallowed, the capsule travels to the intestines where the shell dissolves to mix two chemicals to inflate a balloon to push out a needle to pierce the intestinal wall to deliver a drug into the bloodstream.

AI extracts speech bubbles from comic strips


Case in point: Researchers at Google parent company Alphabet's DeepMind recently revealed in an academic paper that they'd developed a system capable of segmenting CT scans with "near-human performance." Now, scientists at the University of Potsdam in Germany have developed an AI segmentation tool for a slightly more cartoony medium: comics. In a paper published on the preprint server During tests involving a dataset containing speech bubbles with "wiggly tails" and "curved corners," it achieved an F1 score (a measure of a test's accuracy) of 0.94, which the researchers claim is state-of-the-art. "Speech balloons usually consist of a carrier, [a symbolic device used to hold the text,] and a tail connecting the carrier to its root character from which the text emerges. Both tails and carriers come in a variety of shapes, outlines, and degrees of wiggliness," the researchers explain.

Can Birds Be Trained To Bring Down Drones?


In the video, the hawk is clearly the superior predator, swooping in for an attack and knocking the drone down. The hawk also appears to fly away safe and relatively unscathed after the encounter, while the quadcopter instead tumbles to the ground. The risk of injury to a bird from a drone encounter certainly seems very real, however, and it could increase as more and more people use drones. But the dangers haven't yet borne out by arrivals in animal hospitals. I spoke to representatives of both the Lake Milton Raptor Rescue Center and the Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota's College of Veterinary medicine, and neither could recall any birds brought in specifically as the result of a bad encounter with a drone.

Silicon Valley Fears AI Export Rules - Report


Silicon Valley should've been called Balloon Burg. America's tech industry often seems like it might pop under the slightest pressure. Now, according to The New York Times, many of these companies are looking at looming U.S. Department of Commerce export restrictions on artificial intelligence like an inflatable animal would look at a porcupine. Credit: Tartila / Shutterstock Here's the problem: Congress voted in August to limit the export of "emerging and foundational technologies" to preserve U.S. national security interests. The New York Times said that a Commerce Department proposal would restrict the export of "several categories of AI-like computer vision, speech recognition, and natural language understanding" to countries the U.S. has sanctioned in the past.

From Adaptive Kernel Density Estimation to Sparse Mixture Models Machine Learning

We introduce a balloon estimator in a generalized expectation-maximization method for estimating all parameters of a Gaussian mixture model given one data sample per mixture component. Instead of limiting explicitly the model size, this regularization strategy yields low-complexity sparse models where the number of effective mixture components reduces with an increase of a smoothing probability parameter $\mathbf{P>0}$. This semi-parametric method bridges from non-parametric adaptive kernel density estimation (KDE) to parametric ordinary least-squares when $\mathbf{P=1}$. Experiments show that simpler sparse mixture models retain the level of details present in the adaptive KDE solution.

The best weapon in 'Just Cause 4' is Mother Nature


Just Cause 4 arrives at the end of a busy season of open world games. Fortunately, the series has always done things differently from the likes of Assassin's Creed, Read Dead Redemption, Far Cry and the rest. It's the game that coaxes you into causing destruction and explosions, offering a shamelessly hard-boiled physics playground for you cut loose inside. During a lengthy playtime session last week with what appears to be very close to the final game, Just Cause 4 begs to be live-streamed, clipped and shared on Twitch, Twitter, Reddit, Discord and everywhere else. That's how the team describes both the new elemental forces (tornadoes in four different kinds), and Rico Rodriguez and his super-powered grappling hook.

Robot soldiers and 'enhanced' humans will fight future wars, defence experts say

The Independent

Future warfare will likely be conducted by armies of robots and humans enhanced by gene editing and drugs, according to a new Ministry of Defence report. As the world becomes more volatile due to increased threats from terrorism and climate change, "new areas of conflict" will also open up, including space and cyberspace, it is thought. In an analysis developed with experts from around the world, the potential challenges facing the UK are laid out. The document, entitled The Future Starts Today, also warns of an increasing risk from nuclear and chemical weapons as technology rapidly advances. 'Killer robots' ban blocked by US and Russia at UN meeting'Killer robots' ban blocked by US and Russia at UN meeting "This report makes clear that we are living in a world that is becoming rapidly more dangerous, with intensifying challenges from state aggressors who flout the rules, terrorists who want to harm our way of life and the technological race with our adversaries," said defence secretary Gavin Williamson.

The Complex Engineering of the Simple Hook That Could Make Drone Deliveries Real


André Prager turns away from me for a moment, rummaging through a pile of stuff on the cart he has pulled into the small conference room. There are lots of cut-up pieces of cardboard, with a few bags of colorful plastic odds and ends mixed in. "I think the most valuable things in this building are cardboard and tape," he says. He shows me a rectangle of foam-core with a straw, a broken pen, and a few thumb tacks stuck to it. It looks like junk, but because we're at 100 Mayfield Avenue in Mountain View, California, the headquarters of X, Alphabet's secretive division dedicated to cranking out new Googles, it's actually anything but.