SwagBot can herd cattle, pull heavy loads and traverse rough terrain. Soon it could be monitoring cattle in remote farms in the Australian outback. Read more
As military-grade robotics get cheaper and more capable, someone will arm them and put them on American streets.
Patrick Tucker reports: Robot-maker Sean Bielat says he’s fine with the Dallas Police Department’s apparently unprecedented use of a police bomb-disposal robot to kill a gunman on Thursday. “A robot was used to keep people out of harm’s way in an extreme situation,” said Bielat, the CEO of Endeavor Robotics, a spinoff of iRobot’s military division. “That’s how robots are intended to be used.”
“The chief had two options and he went with this one. I supported him completely because it was the safest way to approach it”
Joergen Pedersen, the CEO of RE2 robotics and the chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association’s robotics division concurred. “If these robots are used in manners for which they were unintended, we would expect that the officers who are there to keep citizens and themselves safe would use good judgment where the application of lethal force is a last resort,” he said.
On Sunday, speaking to Face the Nation, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings blessed the operation. “The chief had two options and he went with this one. I supported him completely because it was the safest way to approach it,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »
Erik Ortiz reports: Police in Dallas used a robot with an explosive device to kill a suspect involved in a coordinated ambush against officers.
“We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was. Other options would have exposed our officers in grave danger.”
— Mayor Mike Rawlings
The suspect was holed up inside the El Centro College parking garage for several hours overnight Thursday before police moved to “blast him out,” Mayor Mike Rawlings said Friday. The negotiations with the unidentified suspect had stalled.
“We saw no other option but to use our bomb robot and place a device on its extension for it to detonate where the suspect was,” Rawlings told reporters. “Other options would have exposed our officers in grave danger.”
The mayor said the suspect was killed by the device, and disputed earlier reports that he might have shot himself.
At least three other suspects were involved in the attack on officers during a protest Thursday night about police-involved shootings elsewhere in the country. Five officers were killed and seven others were injured, as well as two civilians.
Typically, police forces have bomb squads that employ remote-controlled robots for dismantling explosive devices.
But using robots with explosives or munitions to root out or even kill suspects appears far less routine…(more)
Source: NBC News
The first suspect in the Dallas police shooting was identified as Micah X. Johnson, 25, the Los Angeles Times reported. Johnson was a resident of the Dallas area who had no ties to terror groups or a criminal history. Law enforcement said he has relatives in Mesquite, Texas.
Five police officers were killed late Thursday by shooters during a peaceful protest over the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile earlier this week. Dallas Police Chief David Brown said negotiations with one suspect broke down early Friday and a bomb robot was used to kill the suspect. Read the rest of this entry »
In the military world, fighter pilots have long been described as the best of the best. As Tom Wolfe famously wrote, only those with the “right stuff” can handle the job. Now, it seems, the right stuff may no longer be the sole purview of human pilots.
A pilot A.I. developed by a doctoral graduate from the University of Cincinnati has shown that it can not only beat other A.I.s, but also a professional fighter pilot with decades of experience. In a series of flight combat simulations, the A.I. successfully evaded retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Gene “Geno” Lee, and shot him down every time. In a statement, Lee called it “the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible A.I. I’ve seen to date.”
And “Geno” is no slouch. He’s a former Air Force Battle Manager and adversary tactics instructor. He’s controlled or flown in thousands of air-to-air intercepts as mission commander or pilot. In short, the guy knows what he’s doing. Plus he’s been fighting A.I. opponents in flight simulators for decades.
But he says this one is different. “I was surprised at how aware and reactive it was. It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment. It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking. It moved instantly between defensive and offensive actions as needed.” Read the rest of this entry »
Can China reboot its manufacturing industry—and the global economy—by replacing millions of workers with machines?
Will Knight writes: Inside a large, windowless room in an electronics factory in south Shanghai, about 15 workers are eyeing a small robot arm with frustration. Near the end of the production line where optical networking equipment is being packed into boxes for shipping, the robot sits motionless.
“The system is down,” explains Nie Juan, a woman in her early 20s who is responsible for quality control. Her team has been testing the robot for the past week. The machine is meant to place stickers on the boxes containing new routers, and it seemed to have mastered the task quite nicely. But then it suddenly stoppedworking. “The robot does save labor,” Nie tells me, her brow furrowed, “but it is difficult to maintain.”
The hitch reflects a much bigger technological challenge facing China’s manufacturers today. Wages in Shanghai have more than doubled in the past seven years, and the company that owns the factory, Cambridge Industries Group, faces fierce competition from increasingly high-tech operations in Germany, Japan, and the United States. To address both of these problems, CIG wants to replace two-thirds of its 3,000 workers with machines this year. Within a few more years, it wants the operation to be almost entirely automated, creating a so-called “dark factory.” The idea is that with so few people around, you could switch the lights off and leave the place to the machines.
But as the idle robot arm on CIG’s packaging line suggests, replacing humans with machines is not an easy task. Most industrial robots have to be extensively programmed, and they will perform a job properly only if everything is positioned just so. Much of the production work done in Chinese factories requires dexterity, flexibility, and common sense. If a box comes down the line at an odd angle, for instance, a worker has to adjust his or her hand before affixing the label. A few hours later, the same worker might be tasked with affixing a new label to a different kind of box. And the following day he or she might be moved to another part of the line entirely.
Despite the huge challenges, countless manufacturers in China are planning to transform their production processes using robotics and automation at an unprecedented scale. In some ways, they don’t really have a choice. Human labor in China is no longer as cheap as it once was, especially compared with labor in rival manufacturing hubs growing quickly in Asia. In Vietnam, Thailand, and Indonesia, factory wages can be less than a third of what they are in the urban centers of China. One solution, many manufacturers—and government officials—believe, is to replace human workers with machines
The results of this effort will be felt globally. Almost a quarter of the world’s products are made in China today. If China can use robots and other advanced technologies to retool types of production never before automated, that might turn the country, now the world’s sweatshop, into a hub of high-tech innovation. Less clear, however, is how that would affect the millions of workers recruited to China’s booming factories.
There are still plenty of workers around now as I tour CIG’s factory with the company’s CEO, Gerald Wong, a compact man who earned degrees from MIT in the 1980s. We watch a team of people performing delicate soldering on circuit boards, and another group clicking circuit boards into plastic casings. Wong stops to demonstrate a task that is proving especially hard to automate: attaching a flexible wire to a circuit board. “It’s always curled differently,” he says with annoyance.
But there are some impressive examples of automation creeping through Wong’s factory, too. As we walk by a row of machines that stamp chips into circuit boards, a wheeled robot roughly the size of a mini-fridge rolls by ferrying components in the other direction. Wong steps in front of the machine to show me how it will detect him and stop. In another part of the factory, we watch a robot arm grab finished circuit boards from a conveyor belt and place them into a machine that automatically checks their software. Wong explains that his company is testing a robot that does the soldering work we saw earlier more quickly and reliably than a person.
After we finish the tour, he says, “It is very clear in China: people will either go into automation or they will go out of the manufacturing business.”
Automate or bust
China’s economic miracle is directly attributable to its manufacturing industry. Approximately 100 million people are employed in manufacturing in China (in the U.S., the number is around 12 million), and the sector accounts for almost 36 percent of China’s gross domestic product. During the last few decades, manufacturing empires were forged around the Yangtze River Delta, Bohai Bay outside Beijing, and the Pearl River Delta in the south. Millions of low-skilled migrant workers found employment in gigantic factories, producing an unimaginable range of products, from socks to servers. China accounted for just 3 percent of global manufacturing output in 1990. Today it produces almost a quarter, including 80 percent of all air conditioners, 71 percent of all mobile phones, and 63 percent of the world’s shoes. For consumers around the world, this manufacturing boom has meant many low-cost products, from affordable iPhones to flat-screen televisions.
In recent years, though, China’s manufacturing engine has started to stall. Wages have increased at a crippling 12 percent per year on average since 2001. Chinese exports fell last year for the first time since the financial crisis of 2009. And toward the end of 2015 the Caixin Purchasing Managers’ Index, a widely used indicator of manufacturing activity, showed that the sector had contracted for the 10th month in a row. Just as China’s manufacturing boom fed the global economy, the prospect of its decline has already started to spook the world’s financial markets.
Automation appears to offer an enticing technological solution. China already imports a huge number of industrial robots, but the country lags far behind competitors in the ratio of robots to workers. In South Korea, for instance, there are 478 robots per 10,000 workers; in Japan the figure is 315; in Germany, 292; in the United States it is 164. In China that number is only 36. Read the rest of this entry »
China’s University of Science and Technology released a human-like robot that is comparable to Japanese models seen in the past on Friday. Not only does it have the face of a beautiful woman, it also capable of interacting with people next to “her.”
Named “Jia Jia,” the face of the life-sized robot is drawn from five attractive female students from the university. Equipped with basic functions, such as making conversation, facial expressions, as well as gestures, it’s apparently more than Siri with a pretty face.
The University also added the robot is “the first of its kind in China”.
This is New York Times’ idea of a ‘misconception’.
Most artificial intelligence researchers still discount the idea of an “intelligence explosion” that will outstrip human capabilities.
John Markoff writes: In March when Alphago, the Go-playing software program designed by Google’s DeepMind subsidiary defeated Lee Se-dol, the human Go champion, some in Silicon Valley proclaimed the event as a precursor of the imminent arrival of genuine thinking machines.
The achievement was rooted in recent advances in pattern recognition technologies that have also yielded impressive results in speech recognition, computer vision and machine learning. The progress in artificial intelligence has become a flash point for converging fears that we feel about the smart machines that are increasingly surrounding us.
However, most artificial intelligence researchers still discount the idea of an “intelligence explosion.”
The idea was formally described as the “Singularity” in 1993 by Vernor Vinge, a computer scientist and science fiction writer, who posited that accelerating technological change would inevitably lead to machine intelligence that would match and then surpass human intelligence. In his original essay, Dr. Vinge suggested that the point in time at which machines attained superhuman intelligence would happen sometime between 2005 and 2030.
Ray Kurzweil, an artificial intelligence researcher, extended the idea in his 2006 book “The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology,” where he argues that machines will outstrip human capabilities in 2045. The idea was popularized in movies such as “Transcendence” and “Her.”
Recently several well-known technologists and scientists, including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates, have issued warnings about runaway technological progress leading to superintelligent machines that might not be favorably disposed to humanity. Read the rest of this entry »
A team of researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory just published their technique on simultaneously printing both rigid and soft materials in hydraulic robotic parts. What can we do with this? If you’re thinking about soft, flexible robots, the possibilities are endless…
Source: Applied Technotopia
Atlas the humanoid robot can trudge through snow and overcome physical challenges from its developers at Boston Dynamics, a unit of Alphabet Inc.
Drones Above Bangor has Navy Base Buzzing
Ed Friedrich reports: On Feb. 8, a drone was seen flying above Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and reported by a civilian employee, spokeswoman Silvia Klatman said.
The airspace above the base is designated as “prohibited.” It’s illegal and hazardous to operate there without permission and coordination of authorities, according to the Navy, which is investigating.
“It’s our intent to support the investigation and prosecution of this reported act, and any others that may occur, in coordination with civilian law enforcement,” Klatman said. She wouldn’t provide more information while the investigation is ongoing except to say the Navy is committed to the security of its infrastructure, people and neighbors.
Agents interviewed neighbors outside the fence last week, said Al Starcevich, whose family’s 110-year-old homestead on Olympic View Road is pinched between the base and Hood Canal. He told a couple of men in suits that he hadn’t seen anything unusual. The drones were reported at night.
“It could be a hoax, but worst-case scenario, it could be clandestine, a foreign government, a cell,” Starcevich said. “The creepy thing is they’re only doing it at night. What are you going to see at night unless you have an infrared camera?” Read the rest of this entry »
Source: The Japan Times
Andrew Tarantola reports: Data analysts Nomura Research Institute (NRI), led by researcher Yumi Wakao, figure that within the next 20 years, nearly half of all jobs in Japan could be accomplished by robots. Working with Professor Michael Osborne from Oxford University, who had previously investigated the same matter in both the US and UK, the NRI team examined more than 600 jobs and found that “up to 49 percent of jobs could be replaced by computer systems,” according to Wakao.
The team looked at how likely each position could be automated, based on the degree of creativity required. That means jobs like operating helpdesks, delivering goods or agricultural labor are all highly susceptible to computerization while writing, teaching and doing whatever it is that Shingy does probably aren’t being….(read more)
There is a robot on sale in Japan billed as the first humanoid robot designed to live with humans. It has proved to be very popular — however, before you bring Pepper home, you must sign a contract promising not to have sex with it.