The Tiny Radar Chip Revolutionizing Gesture Recognition: Google ATAP's Project Soli

From All About Circuits:   Google ATAP is bringing touchless interfaces to the market using a miniaturized radar chip no bigger than a dime. This is Project Soli. Soli’s radar sensor is a marvel in many respects. For one thing, it solves a long-lived issue when it comes to gesture-recognition technology. Previous forays into the topic yielded almost-answers such as stereo cameras (which have difficulty understanding the overlap of fingers, e.g.) and capacitive touch sensing(which struggles to interpret motion in a 3D context). Google ATAP’s answer is radar. Radar is capable of interpreting objects’ position and motion even through other objects, making it perfect for developing a sensor that can be embedded in different kinds of devices like smartphones... (full article)

Innovative Flexible Automation Drives Rapid Growth

A manufacturing cell can reduce part transportation because the close proximity of the cell's resources makes part transportation almost non-existent.

Toyota's U.S. Robotics Boss Promises Results Within 5 Years

Yuri Kageyama for News Factor:  The U.S. robotics expert tapped to head Toyota's Silicon Valley research company says the $1 billion investment by the giant Japanese automaker will start showing results within five years. Gill Pratt [pictured above] told reporters that the Toyota Research Institute is also looking ahead into the distant future when there will be cars that anyone, including children and the elderly, can ride in on their own, as well as robots that help out in homes. Pratt, a former program manager at the U.S. military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, joined Toyota Motor Corp. first as a technical adviser when it set up its artificial intelligence research effort at Stanford University and MIT. He said safety features will be the first types of AI applications to appear in Toyota vehicles. Such features are already offered on some models now being sold, such as sensors that help cars brake or warn drivers before a possible crash, and cars that drive themselves automatically into parking spaces or on certain roads. "I expect something to come out during those five years," Pratt told reporters recently at Toyota's Tokyo office of the timeframe seen for the investment.   Cont'd...

The ABC of RPA, Part 3: What Steps Should I Take in Order to Start the Robotics Journey?

Identifying the departments with the biggest backlog, the most amount of overtime or the area that receives the highest number of complaints is a straight forward way to prioritize which areas of the organization to automate.

Why the Future of Robotics Lies in the Code

While the exterior mechanics of a robot may be fascinating, it is their programming and software that has the most utility for future workforces.

Artificial Intelligence Produces Realistic Sounds That Fool Humans

From MIT News:   Video-trained system from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab could help robots understand how objects interact with the world.  Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have demonstrated an algorithm that has effectively learned how to predict sound: When shown a silent video clip of an object being hit, the algorithm can produce a sound for the hit that is realistic enough to fool human viewers. This “Turing Test for sound” represents much more than just a clever computer trick: Researchers envision future versions of similar algorithms being used to automatically produce sound effects for movies and TV shows, as well as to help robots better understand objects’ properties... (full article) (full paper)  

Wal-Mart Experimenting With Robotic Shopping Cart for Stores

Spencer Soper & Shannon Pettypiece for Bloomberg:  Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is working with a robotics company to develop a shopping cart that helps customers find items on their lists and saves them from pushing a heavy cart through a sprawling store and parking lot, according to a person familiar with the matter. Such carts are an emerging opportunity for robotics companies as brick-and-mortar stores look for innovative ways to match the convenience of Amazon.com Inc. and other online retailers, said Wendy Roberts, founder and chief executive officer of Five Elements Robotics. Roberts, who spoke Tuesday on a robotics panel at the Bloomberg Technology Conference 2016, said her company was working with the “world’s largest retailer” on such a shopping cart. That retailer is Wal-Mart, which is evaluating a prototype in its lab and giving feedback to the New Jersey robotics company, a person familiar said. Wal-Mart spokesman Ravi Jariwala said he couldn’t immediately comment on the robotic shopping cart.   Cont'd...

The ABC of RPA, Part 2: What are the opportunities to automate?

Robotic process automation can be applied across departments, from HR and Customer Service to Finance and Operations. 70-80 per cent of rules-based processes can be automated,

Google's developing its own version of the Laws of Robotics

Graham Templeton for ExtremeTech:  Google’s artificial intelligence researchers are starting to have to code around their own code, writing patches that limit a robot’s abilities so that it continues to develop down the path desired by the researchers — not by the robot itself. It’s the beginning of a long-term trend in robotics and AI in general: once we’ve put in all this work to increase the insight of an artificial intelligence, how can we make sure that insight will only be applied in the ways we would like? That’s why researchers from Google’s DeepMind and the Future of Humanity Institute have published a paper outlining a software “killswitch” they claim can stop those instances of learning that could make an AI less useful — or, in the future, less safe. It’s really less a killswitch than a blind spot, removing from the AI the ability to learn the wrong lessons.   Cont'd...

The ABC of RPA: What is robotics and automation in the office?

Robotics and automation in the office is actually much more subtle, and typically works behind the scenes.

Robotic Pickers and Forklifts

The new robotic movers no longer need to travel fixed routes, as they can be programmed while on the move. Focusing on automated materials handling processes, and the underlying robot perception technology, companies will be employing this sophisticated, state-of-the-art artificial intelligence now and in the future.

OpenAI Gym Beta

From the OpenAI team: We're releasing the public beta of  OpenAI Gym , a toolkit for developing and comparing  reinforcement learning (RL) algorithms. It consists of a growing suite of environments  (from  simulated robots  to  Atari  games), and a site for  comparing and reproducing  results. OpenAI Gym is compatible with algorithms written in any framework, such as Tensorflow  and  Theano . The environments are written in Python, but we'll soon make them easy to use from any language. We originally built OpenAI Gym as a tool to accelerate our own RL research. We hope it will be just as useful for the broader community.   Getting started:   If you'd like to dive in right away, you can work through our  tutorial ...  (full intro post)

​Forget self-driving cars: What about self-flying drones?

Tina Amirtha for Benelux:  In 2014, three software engineers decided to create a drone company in Wavre, Belgium, just outside Brussels. All were licensed pilots and trained in NATO security techniques. But rather than build drones themselves, they decided they would upgrade existing radio-controlled civilian drones with an ultra-secure software layer to allow the devices to fly autonomously. Their company, EagleEye Systems, would manufacture the onboard computer and design the software, while existing manufacturers would provide the drone body and sensors. Fast-forward to the end of March this year, when the company received a Section 333 exemption from the US Federal Aviation Administration to operate and sell its brand of autonomous drones in the US. The decision came amid expectations that the FAA will loosen its restrictions on legal drone operations and issue new rules to allow drones to fly above crowds.   Cont'd...

SUNSPRING by 32 Tesla K80 GPUs

From Ross Goodwin on Medium: To call the film above surreal would be a dramatic understatement. Watching it for the first time, I almost couldn’t believe what I was seeing—actors taking something without any objective meaning, and breathing semantic life into it with their emotion, inflection, and movement.  After further consideration, I realized that actors do this all the time. Take any obscure line of Shakespearean dialogue and consider that 99.5% of the audience who hears that line in 2016 would not understand its meaning if they read it in on paper. However, in a play, they do understand it based on its context and the actor’s delivery.  As Modern English speakers, when we watch Shakespeare, we rely on actors to imbue the dialogue with meaning. And that’s exactly what happened inSunspring, because the script itself has no objective meaning. On watching the film, many of my friends did not realize that the action descriptions as well as the dialogue were computer generated. After examining the output from the computer, the production team made an effort to choose only action descriptions that realistically could be filmed, although the sequences themselves remained bizarre and surreal... (medium article with technical details) Here is the stage direction that led to Middleditch’s character vomiting an eyeball early in the film: C (smiles) I don’t know anything about any of this. H (to Hauk, taking his eyes from his mouth) Then what? H2 There’s no answer.

Employing Drones to Solve Business' Most Complex Issues

A true system doesn't only take the technology into account, but also the processes and human aspects.

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