By Elizabeth Palermo for LiveScience: It was a good year to be a robot.
In 2015, researchers in Korea unveiled a robotic exoskeleton that users can control with their minds, a four-legged bot in China set a new world record by walking 83.28 miles (134.03 km) without stopping and 3D-printing robots in Amsterdam started work on a new steel footbridge.
But these smart machines are capable of so much more. Researchers around the world are now designing and building bots that will complete more noteworthy tasks in 2016 and beyond. From exploring other planets to fighting fires at sea, here are a few skills that bots could pick up in the new year. Full Article:
By Will Knight for MIT Technology Review: The robots didn’t really take over in 2015, but at times it felt as if that might be where we’re headed.
There were signs that machines will soon take over manual work that currently requires human skill. Early in the year details emerged of a contest organized by Amazon to help robots do more work inside its vast product fulfillment centers.
The Amazon Picking challenge, as the event was called, was held at a prominent robotics conference later in the year. Teams competed for a $25,000 prize by designing a robot to identify and grasp items from one of Amazon’s storage shelves as quickly as possible (the winner picked and packed 10 items in 20 minutes). This might seem a trivial task for human workers, but figuring out how to grasp different objects arranged haphazardly on shelves in a real warehouse is still a formidable challenge for robot-kind. Cont'd...
By Mike Wheatley for SiliconAngle: Google is planning an organizational reshuffle that will see its secretive robotics department and drone business folded into its Google X labs.
Google’s robotics division, and the drone group it created when it acquired Titan Aerospace in 2014, will both fall under the Google X umbrella when the reshuffle takes place some time next year, Re/Code reported.
Google X is the secretive part of Google that develops some of its most futuristic, bleeding edge technologies. These include its famous self-driving cars, Project Loon (Wi-Fi hot air balloons), and its airborne wind turbines. Google X operates as a standalone company under Google’s parent Alphabet Inc., which was created following Google’s corporate restructuring earlier this year.
Google X’s projects are largely experimental and extremely uncertain in terms of a business model. Nevertheless, Google obviously deems it the best place to be for its robotics division, which has been left leaderless ever since Andy Rubin quit the Web giant last year. Previously, there was speculation that the robotics division may become a standalone company under Alphabet, but today’s news would indicate that’s not going to happen any time soon. Cont'd...
Richard Mahoney for TechCrunch: As 2016 approaches, robotics is poised to traverse from a narrow set of industrial and military use cases to broader market applications that include commercial drones, telepresence robots, delivery robots and, of course, mobile vacuum cleaners.
But, are robots ready to be a part of our daily life?
Gill Pratt, a visionary who served as a program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and oversaw the DARPA Robotics Challenge, postulated earlier this year that robotics might soon be headed for a “Cambrian Explosion.”
The term refers to a period of time roughly half a billion years ago when the numbers and diversity of animals became critical to evolution. Pratt offered that technology developments are ushering in a similar upsurge in the diversification and applicability of robotics. Cont'd...
From RT.com: Governments should examine the effects of robotics on human civilization before automated machines leap “out of factories to automate all aspects of our lives,” a group of scientists warns.
The Foundation for Responsible Robotics, launched on Friday in London, aims to persuade governments and industries to look at the ways robots will impact on society. They want organizations to look at the way robots could disrupt the job market, and believe policymakers have so far failed researched the issue.
Robotics professor at Sheffield University and Chairman of the foundation Noel Sharkey said the potential problems must be considered.
“We are rushing headlong into the robotics revolution without consideration for the many unforeseen problems lying around the corner. It is time now to step back and think hard about the future of the technology before it sneaks up and bites us.”
Sharkey said growing numbers of robots are being used in the service industry, whereas historically robots have usually been used to automate factory work. Cont'd...
Andre Mitchell for ChristianToday: Just like a real human toddler, a robot is learning how to take baby steps inside a laboratory at the University of California Berkeley.
The state-of-the-art robot mimics the behaviour of a child so realistically that it also falls as it attempts to take its first steps.
What is even more impressive is that the robot, nicknamed "Darwin," is actually teaching itself how to walk, much like a little child.
The robot's developers, Pieter Abbeel and his team at UC Berkeley's Robot Learning Lab, explained that Darwin is not like other robots that are programmed to do only a set of things.
This robot has a neural network designed to mimic the human brain, through which it undergoes the process called "reinforcement learning."
"Imagine learning a new skill, like how to ride a bike. You're going to fall a lot, but then, after some practice, you figure it out," one of Darwin's developers, computer scientist John Schulman, explained in an article on NBC News. Cont'd...
By Erico Guizzo and Evan Ackerman for IEEE Spectrum: Today in Tokyo, Toyota announced that it is investing US $1 billion over the next five years to establish a new R&D arm headquartered in Silicon Valley and focused on artificial intelligence and robotics. The Toyota Research Institute (TRI) plans to hire hundreds of engineers to staff a main facility in Palo Alto, Calif., near Stanford University, and a second facility located near MIT in Cambridge, Mass.
Former DARPA program manager Dr. Gill Pratt, an executive technical advisor at Toyota, was named CEO of TRI, which will begin operations in January. Toyota president Akio Toyoda said in a press conference that the company pursues innovation and new technologies “to make life better for our customers and society as a whole,” adding that he wanted to “work with Gill not just because he’s an amazing researcher and engineer, but because I believe his goals and motivations are the same as ours.” Cont'd...
Richard Waters for FT.com: Toyota has hired the top robotics expert from the US defence department’s research arm and promised $50m in extra funding for artificial intelligence research, as it steps up the race between the world’s biggest carmakers to pioneer new forms of computer-assisted driving.
However, the Japanese carmaker maintained on Friday that completely driverless cars were still years away, and that AI and robotics would have a more complex effect on the relationship between humans and their vehicles than Google’s experiments with “robot cars” suggest.
Gill Pratt, who stepped down recently from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), will move to Silicon Valley to head Toyota’s robotics efforts, the company said. Darpa played a key role in stimulating interest in driverless cars with a competition in 2005 — the leader of the winning entry, Sebastian Thrun, who was then a professor at Stanford University, went on to found Google’s driverless car programme. Cont'd...
Artificial Intelligence Technologies Are Quietly Penetrating a Wide Range of Enterprise Applications, According to Tractica
Silicon Valley Explores the Influence of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence on the Future of Technology at Global Mobile Internet Conference (GMIC)
A global arms race for killer robots? Bad idea.
That’s according to more than 1,000 leading artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics researchers, who have together signed an open letter, published Monday, from the nonprofit Future of Life Institute.
The letter calls for a ban on autonomous offensive weapons as a means of preventing just such a disaster, and represents the latest word on the global conversation around the risks and benefits of AI weaponry. Cont'd...
Run down of the state of AI from FastML:
Let’s take a look at how advanced we are, really. Two representative and well known examples of the current state of the art are:
- Automatic image annotation using a combination of convolutional and recurrent neural networks
- DeepMind’s deep reinforcement learning for playing Atari games
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