Hallie Siegel writes: If you are working in the field of robotics or AI, you may be used to fielding calls from journalists wanting to better understand the technology. But not all journalists are created equal. Pulitzer-Prize-winning John Markoff (@markoff) has been covering the technology beat at the New York Times for almost three decades, and recently published Machines of Loving Grace – a book that chronicles the evolution of computer science, robotics and AI. In this interview we turn the lens around and ask Markoff about what motivates his interest to report on robotics, and how he sees trends in robotics today being informed by people and events from the past.
Hallie Siegel writes: Researchers are connecting robotics with neuroscience in order to both build intelligent robots and to better understand how the brain works. Neurorobotics researcher Florian Roehrbein summarizes the state of the art in the field of robotics cognition and control, based on the latest research present at the International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems.
Hallie Siegel writes: Forbes has once again expanded their “30 under 30 list this year to celebrate the achievements of the up and coming; the main list now covers 20 different sectors, and an inaugural European edition has also been released, with 10 sectors. While the expansion of the list dilutes the brand (it’s more like “900 under 30), it does highlight some interesting trends in robotics, AI and automation. Advanced manufacturing, conversational systems and human-augmented AI are key themes on this year’s list.
Hallie Siegel writes: Robotics business writer Frank Tobe writes that two keynotes from the recent Consumer Electronics Show illustrate how artificial intelligence and data synthesis will provide the backbone to enable meaningful and productive interaction between humans and machines... not only on screens, but with gestures, visual cues and spoken understandable communication to and from smart devices and robots of all types. And it's not just a near-term future they foretell — they give examples of where it is already happening.
Hallie Siegel writes: The Consumer Electronics Show draws huge traffic to the worlds of digital, electronics, robotics, IoT and consumer products. Everyone wants to learn about products and thematic or even paradigm changes that will affect their lives in the near future, and over 6,000 members of the media from all over the world were there to gather that information. Their observations have been — and will be — top news stories for months to come. Frank Tobe, investor in robotics, and author of the Robot Report, offers his take on this year's event.
Hallie Siegel writes: Autonomous car expert Brad Templeton argues that we’re in for a period of about 5 years in electric cars where each year's new model is a lot better, and that could be a problem for people trying to sell them. Further exacerbating Moore's Law for cars is that autonomous features (like traffic jam assist) rely heavily on computers. Unfortunately cars cost a lot more than computers or cell phones, so throwing them away before the end of their lifespan is a bit of a problem. How do get over the depreciation problem while autonomous cars and electric cars are going through this period of rapid development? Templeton suggests that a taxi model could be the answer, since use is so much more intense that with a private ownership model, that the cars are likely to wear out before they become worthless from a resale perspective.
Hallie Siegel writes: With their near-vertical walls and deep fractures, glacier crevasses are dangerously narrow ice caves that present a huge risk to search and rescue teams. In a partnership between Flyability (Winner of the 2015 UAE Drones for Good Award) and the Zermatt Glacier mountain rescue team, drones were used to explore a remote crevasse in the Swiss Alps. The goal is to one day use the drones to help locate injured parties before dispatching a rescue team into dangerous territory, and also to help refine rescue techniques related to crevasse fall emergencies. Beautiful photo essay and video by the team at Flyability.
Hallie Siegel writes: Written by the author of "Learning Robotics Using Python", Lentin Joseph's new book takes a deep dive into programming with ROS. Special chapters devoted to visions sensors, industrial robotics, 3d modelling and interfacing with your robot hardware in ROS. Also discusses best practices.
Robofenix2 writes: How many of us have envisioned robots assisting us in our homes with everyday tasks? Different users may have personal preferences when it comes to tasks, such as tidying up or organizing objects. For example, every person has their own way of organizing groceries, or items on their shelves. Each environment is unique with respect to the items and number of containers that a robot could encounter. This makes it challenging for experts to pre-program robots with strategies for performing such tasks in order to cope with all potential situations and to accommodate different individuals.
Hallie Siegel writes: More shuffling of big names in robotics. James Kuffner from CMU is moving to Toyota's Research Institute (TRI) to work with former DARPA DRC Program Manager Gill Pratt, while Nokia's Hans Peter Brondmo moves to Google's robotics division.
Hallie Siegel writes: Last week the Obama administration proposed a $4B investment to bring autonomous cars safely to US roads. This was followed up by an announcement by the US Department of Transportation that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would be seeking a unified policy on regulating autonomous vehicles across the nation — a policy that might supersede regulation already in place by individual states, like California, which have restricted fully automated driverless cars from their roadways. The plan would also reduce regulation for early deployment test vehicles, smoothing the way for the pilot projects that aim to test cars on real roads and in real driving conditions — the next step in making robocars a reality. Article by autonomous car expert Brad Templeton.
Hallie Siegel writes: Industrial robotics practitioner Mathew Belanger describes five broad applications for force sensing in robotics, showing that in many cases, force sensing can be just as usual as vision systems to get the job done.
Hallie Siegel writes: While many people view technology or regulation as the biggest obstacles to robocar deployment, it could be that the bigger obstacle is that we have yet to determine what our safety goals are for autonomous cars, and also how to test these vehicles so that we can know when these goals have been met. Interesting point of view piece by autonomous car expert Brad Templeton.
Hallie Siegel writes: Dario Floreano (head of the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems at EPFL in Switzerland) talks about acoustic sensing, which can be used by swarming drones to perceive their fellow swarm members and coordinate their flight, or to locate objects on the ground, in a rescue scenario for example.
Hallie Siegel writes: The newest Silicon Valley Robotics Case Study looks at service robots from a business model perspective, using Savioke's hotel delivery Relay robot as an example. In this interview, Savioke CEO Steve Cousins talks about his early customers and how robots fit into the hotel service model. Relay is now in five hotel chains and just raised $15M in series A investment.