University of Surrey presents a roadmap of space robotics

ABIGAIL BEALL FOR MAILONLINE:  Many people spend their childhood peering up into the vast expanse of the sky, dreaming of growing up to become an astronaut.  But these dreams could be dashed as the idea of people venturing into space will one day become a distant memory, according to a report published today.  Robots will eventually have enough capabilities to replace humans and other animals on space missions, experts have said.  Many missions involving humans in space are dangerous and expensive.  But for years robots have been sent to places humans could not venture, like the rovers venturing to the edges of our solar system.  According to European Space Agency (Esa) Astronaut Roberto Vittori, who launched a paper on space robotics and autonomous systems, robots can help carry out these dangerous missions.   Cont'd...

The Third Offset Must Update Asimov's Laws of Robotics

JG Randall for The National Interest:  Things tend to happen in threes. An unlikely triumvirate on the surface, it would appear that Asimov’s laws on robotics and the UN Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) will outflank the Third Offset—the nation’s search for its next silver bullet in war fighting is robotics—knowing that many nations will agree on moral grounds. These nations will reject Asimov based on semantics, and though the debate might be perceived as strictly academic, or even rhetorical, it is worth discussing for the sake of a good cautionary tale. Because, whether we like it or not, killer bots are coming to a theater of operation near you. Before we get deep in the weeds, let’s get some clarity. First, let’s outline Asimov’s robotic laws. The Three Laws of Robotics are a set of rules devised by the science fiction author Isaac Asimov. They were introduced in his 1942 short story “Runaround,” although they had been foreshadowed in earlier stories.   Cont'd...

The ABC of RPA, Part 5: What Is the Cost of Automation and How Do I Justify It to the Leadership Team?

We've put together a breakdown of the cost of automation, and how to justify it to the leadership team.

Robotics Gone Wild: 8 Animal-Inspired Machines

Thomas Claburn for InformationWeek:  Among programmers, there's a principle called DRY, which stands for "Don't repeat yourself." It's an attempt to avoid writing code that duplicates the function of other code. DRY embodies the same resistance to needless repetition as the more common idiom, "Don't reinvent the wheel." Among those making robots, a group that includes software and hardware engineers attempts to adhere to these principles, as can be seen in designs that borrow from nature, from the evolved forms of life on Earth. Biomimicry and bioinspired design provide a way to avoid reinventing the wheel. The biological systems of living things have been honed through eons of Darwinian user testing. Borrowing aspects of animal physiology isn't the only option or necessarily the best option for robot designers. For some purposes, something new may be necessary. For others, biomechanically systems can't be easily duplicated.   Cont'd...

Cozmo Is an Artificially Intelligent Toy Truck That's Also the Future of Robotics

CADE METZ for WIRED:  HANNS TAPPEINER TYPES a few lines of code into his laptop and hits “return.” A tiny robot sits beside the laptop, looking like one of those anthropomorphic automobiles that show up in Pixar’s Cars movies. Almost instantly, it wakes up, rolls down the table, and counts to four. This is Cozmo—an artificially intelligent toy robot unveiled late last month by San Francisco startup Anki—and Tappeiner, one of the company’s founders, is programming the little automaton to do new things. The programs are simple—he also teaches Cozmo to stack blocks—but they’re supposed to be simple. Tappeiner is using Anki’s newly unveiled software development kit—an SDK, in coder parlance—that he says even the greenest of coders can use to tweak the behavior of the toy robot. And that’s a big deal, at least according to Anki. The company claims the SDK is the first of its kind: a kit that lets anyone program such an intelligent robot, a robot that recognizes faces and navigates new environments and even mimics emotions. With the kit, Tappeiner says, “we’re trying to advance the field of robotics.” He compares the move to Apple letting people build apps for the iPhone.   Cont'd...

The New Police Arsenal - Robots

Bomb robots were designed to help detonate and remove Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), not to deliver payloads. But the Dallas police improvised and attached a bomb delivery system to the robot.

Intuitive Machines Used 3w-powered Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Platform for Flights in Antarctica

The flight of Intuitive Machines illustrated and proved that an excellent developed UAV like the Tiburon Jr, equipped with a powerful and reliable engine can be an efficient alternative to manned airplanes and helicopters, even in hazardous environments.

The ABC of RPA, Part 4: Choosing the right robotics and automation software to get the job done

In part four of the ABC of RPA series, we discuss how to choose the right software to suit your automation requirements.

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...

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