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NASA Launching Astrobee Robots to Space Station Tomorrow

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

It's been a little over two years since we were first introduced to Astrobee, an autonomous robotic cube designed to fly around the International Space Station. Tomorrow, a pair of Astrobee robots (named Honey and Bumble) will launch to the ISS aboard a Cygnus cargo flight. There's already a nice comfy dock waiting for them in the Japanese Experiment Module (JEM), and the plan is to put them to work as soon as possible. After a bit of astronaut-assisted setup, the robots will buzz around autonomously, doing experiments and taking video, even operating without direct human supervision on occasion. NASA has big plans for these little robots, and before they head off to space, we checked in with folks from the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., to learn about what we have to look forward to.


Intel's Spring Crest NNP-L Initial Details

#artificialintelligence

In 2016 Intel acquired Nervana Systems in the hope of expanding beyond their traditional CPU market with more specialized ASICs. The company's first-generation Neural Network Processor (NNP) was a 28-nanometer design called Lake Crest. This chip served as a software development vehicle without making it to general availability. Intel's follow-up design is Spring Crest. It was first announced at last year's Intel AI Developer Conference.


Can robots build a Moon base for astronauts? Japan hopes to find out.

FOX News

A moon base could be constructed remotely. Japan's space agency wants to create a moon base with the help of robots that can work autonomously, with little human supervision. The project, which has racked up three years of research so far, is a collaboration between the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the construction company Kajima Corp., and three Japanese universities: Shibaura Institute of Technology, The University of Electro-Communications and Kyoto University. Recently, the collaboration did an experiment on automated construction at the Kajima Seisho Experiment Site in Odawara (central Japan). A 7-ton autonomous backhoe went through its paces at the site, going through procedures such as driving a specified distance and repeating routine operations, JAXA officials said in a statement.


Teaching machines to reason about what they see

Robohub

A child who has never seen a pink elephant can still describe one -- unlike a computer. "The computer learns from data," says Jiajun Wu, a PhD student at MIT. "The ability to generalize and recognize something you've never seen before -- a pink elephant -- is very hard for machines." Deep learning systems interpret the world by picking out statistical patterns in data. This form of machine learning is now everywhere, automatically tagging friends on Facebook, narrating Alexa's latest weather forecast, and delivering fun facts via Google search. But statistical learning has its limits.


Teaching machines to reason about what they see

MIT News

A child who has never seen a pink elephant can still describe one -- unlike a computer. "The computer learns from data," says Jiajun Wu, a PhD student at MIT. "The ability to generalize and recognize something you've never seen before -- a pink elephant -- is very hard for machines." Deep learning systems interpret the world by picking out statistical patterns in data. This form of machine learning is now everywhere, automatically tagging friends on Facebook, narrating Alexa's latest weather forecast, and delivering fun facts via Google search. But statistical learning has its limits.


Industrial Robots Keep the Modern Factory Moving

IEEE Spectrum Robotics Channel

Conventional six-axis industrial robots typically run a series of cables along the outside of the robotic arm to control power consumption, movement and other dynamic functions. These cables are usually housed in a plastic or rubber tube or tied together using materials as rudimentary as rubber bands or duct tape. As the robotic arm twists, turns and bends, the cables themselves can get tied up in knots or even fray or snap from the force of the machine's movement. Automotive industry experts estimate that it takes an average of five hours to replace a standard corrugated hose at an estimated cost of $10,000 a minute to the manufacturer. This problem of keeping cable movement static while attached to a dynamic robotic device has been a vexing one for engineers -- but what if the cables could move with the robot, making the same twisting and bending motions without twisting and bending themselves?


Nvidia announces $99 AI computer for developers, makers, and researchers

#artificialintelligence

In recent years, advances in AI have produced algorithms for everything from image recognition to instantaneous translation. But when it comes to applying these advances in the real world, we're only just getting started. A new product from Nvidia announced today at GTC -- a $99 AI computer called the Jetson Nano -- should help speed that process. The Nano is the latest in Nvidia's line of Jetson embedded computing boards, used to provide the brains for robots and other AI-powered devices. Plug one of these into your latest creation, and it'll be able to handle tasks like object recognition and autonomous navigation without relying on cloud processing power.


Robot 'Natural Selection' Recombines Into Something Totally New

WIRED

Worms, mammals, even bees do it. Every living thing on Earth replicates, whether that be asexually (boring) or sexually (fun). Robots do not do it: The machines are steely and very uninterested in reproduction. But perhaps they can learn. Scientists in a fascinating field known as evolutionary robotics are trying to get machines to adapt to the world, and eventually to reproduce on their own, just like biological organisms.


Ranking Tweets with TensorFlow

#artificialintelligence

As a global, public communications platform, Twitter strives to keep users informed with relevant, healthy content. Originally, Twitter presented Tweets in reverse-chronological order. As the community became more connected, the amount of content in users' home timelines increased significantly. Users would follow hundreds of people on Twitter -- maybe thousands -- and when opening Twitter, they would miss some of their most important Tweets. To address this issue, we launched a "Ranked Timeline" which shows the most relevant Tweets at the top of the timeline -- ensuring users never miss their best Tweets. A year later we shared how machine learning powers the ranked timeline at scale.


Fifty Years After Apollo 11, the View of Earth from the Moon

The New Yorker

I saw "Apollo 11" in the Los Angeles suburb of Alhambra, sitting in an IMAX theatre with ten or so other freelancers and retirees who could see a documentary about NASA in the middle of a Thursday. The director and editor, Todd Douglas Miller, tells the story of the moon launch using archival footage, including a trove of 70-mm. The film has no voice-over narration. Instead its story is relayed by the newscasts of Walter Cronkite and the radio transmissions of Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and their interlocutors on Earth. The result is a visual museum about America in July, 1969, in which Aldrin's famous 16-mm.