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If you've ever gotten product recommendations on Amazon, you've seen Danny Lange's handiwork. The same goes for Uber's AI that books you a ride. The Danish computer scientist helped build the machine learning platforms that both companies use throughout their operations, from the engineering to the marketing departments. Lange has just done the same at video game platform maker Unity, with the goal of evolving robo characters into more complex and nuanced playing companions than a human could program. Lange doesn't shy away from the oft-hyped term "artificial intelligence"-- provided the machines really do learn how to respond to users' needs.

In the Los Angeles Fires, Drones Take Off for the First Time


The pictures paint Los Angeles as a hellscape, a land of glowing red fire-fronts racing across hills, whipped along by screaming winds. Plumes of dense gray smoke fill the skies. As of Friday afternoon, Southern California was battling blazes in Los Angeles, Ventura, and San Diego counties, which had destroyed more than 500 structures, and forced over 200,000 people to flee. The most harrowing images are of the firefighters marching into this madness, clad in their heavy yellow protective gear, lugging hoses, doing their best to protect people and property from the unpredictable flames. When fires grow this large, resources are stretched thin.

Video Friday: ROS 10 Years, Robotic Imaginations, and Centimetre Bots

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Video Friday is your weekly selection of awesome robotics videos, collected by your Automaton bloggers. We'll also be posting a weekly calendar of upcoming robotics events for the next two months; here's what we have so far (send us your events!): Let us know if you have suggestions for next week, and enjoy today's videos. In case you weren't keeping track, Monday, December 4, was National Cookie Day in the United Sttes, so here's a throwback to MIT's PR2 baking a cookie (they say it's called a "Chocolate Afghan," whatever that is). We've been waiting TEN YEARS for this: It's the official ROS 10 year montage!

M1 to assess use of 4.5G mobile network for drones


M1 has completed trials involving the use of its 4.5G "heterogeneous network" (HetNet) to control drone operations and is embarking on further research on the traffic management of such devices. The Singapore telco had worked with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to conduct the trials, tapping its network to provide "command, control, and communication capabilities required for safe and efficient drone operations". The specially designed drone, or unmanned aircraft system (UAS). The drone then was flown around M1's office building as well as two fields located in the western part of the island. According to the mobile operator, drones typically ran on unlicensed spectrum such as 2.4 GHz band, which provided short range line-of-sight wireless connectivity but was susceptible to radio signal interference.

China Criticizes India for Crashed Drone Near Border

U.S. News

BEIJING (Reuters) - China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with India on Thursday after the recent crash of an Indian drone in what the Chinese military said was Chinese territory, an incident that could cause further friction along the two countries' disputed border.

JPL's AI-Powered Racing Drone Challenges Pro Human Pilot

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

As drones and their components get smaller, more efficient, and more capable, we've seen an increasing amount of research towards getting these things flying by themselves in semi-structured environments without relying on external localization. The University of Pennsylvania has done some amazing work in this area, as has DARPA's Fast Lightweight Autonomy program. At NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, they've been working on small drone autonomy for the past few years as part of a Google-funded project. The focus is on high-speed dynamic maneuvering, in the context of flying a drone as fast as possible around an indoor race course using only on-board hardware. For the project's final demo, JPL raced their autonomous drones through an obstacle course against a professional human racing drone pilot.

Stock of drone maker AeroVironment soars after strong earnings report

Los Angeles Times

Shares of AeroVironment Inc., a drone manufacturer based in Monrovia, soared Wednesday after the company reported strong second-quarter earnings, boosted by a growth in sales of unmanned aircraft systems. AeroVironment stock was up as much as 34% on Wednesday morning before losing some of its gains. It was up 26% at $54.49 around noon Pacific time. The company held its second-quarter earnings call with analysts Tuesday afternoon and reported revenue of $73.8 million, a 47% increase compared with the same period last year. AeroVironment attributed the gain to increased sales of unmanned aircraft systems, which includes drones, on-board cameras and sensors and ground control stations.

South Korea Will Deploy Drones To Counter North Korean Nuclear Missile Threat

International Business Times

South Korea planned to introduce a new counter to North Korea's burgeoning nuclear weapons program: drones. South Korean news wire agency Yonhap reported Tuesday that the nation planned to roll out a new weaponized drone unit next year. "The Army plans to set up a special organization to lead the development of dronebots, establish a standard platform and expand the dronebot program by function," an Army official told Yonhap, asking not be named because they weren't authorized to discuss the matter. "To begin with, we will launch a dronebot combat unit next year and use it as a'game changer' in warfare." The drones primary function will be for surveillance -- North Korea has launched a number of ballistic missile tests this year and many of them came without warning.

Singapore drone frees your fingers to take photos

Daily Mail

As more people shoot pictures and videos from consumer drones, researchers in Singapore have found a way round the frustrating task of framing and taking photos while manually piloting the craft. More than 2.8 million consumer drones are expected to be sold this year, up from 2 million last year, says research firm Gartner. Most carry some kind of camera. Picture taken November 27, 2017. The user tells the drone to take photographs from different angles of the subject, such as a statue.

Amazon's latest idea to save you money: Get paid to watch ads


On this busy Cyber Monday, one of Amazon's busy distribution centers show how they manage to keep up with the holiday rush. Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) has staked its brand on putting the customer above all other things, and the company's mission is to be "Earth's most customer-centric company." From its heady days as an online bookseller, Amazon has always sought to use the Internet to provide customers with convenience and low prices. Its Prime loyalty program may be the best example of this, as it offers free two-day shipping on millions of items, as well as a slew of other benefits including video streaming, music streaming, access to the Kindle Lending Library, and discounts at Whole Foods, all for just $99/year. Amazon has always experimented with ways to save customers money, but the company's latest move is like nothing you've ever seen.