Robotics/AI – SciPol Weekly, November 11 – November 17


UAV News – Federal DOT Announces a New Pilot Initiative to Expedite Integration of Manned and Unmanned Aircraft

On November 2nd, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced further details to the DOT new Drone Integration Pilot Program. “The Drone pilot program will accelerate the safe integration of drones into our airspace by creating new partnerships between local governments, the FAA, and private drone operators,” said Secretary Chao. “These partnerships will allow local communities to experiment with new technologies like package delivery, emergency drone inspections, and more, on terms that work for them and in ways that support a unified and safe airspace.”

Financial Times – Governments compete to take the wheel on rules for self-driving cars

After crossing the border bet­ween California and Nevada, Audi’s self-driving test car pulls over. Nothing is wrong. But the A7 saloon must change num­ber plates if it is to continue in driverless mode while passing through Nevada. It is just one of the quirks of the disparate rules governing tes­ting and development of autonomous vehicles in the US.

Reuters – U.S. safety board to probe self-driving shuttle crash in Las Vegas

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, which has the power to issue safety recommendations and determines probable causes of crashes, wants to learn more about “how self-driving vehicles interact with their environment and the other human-driven vehicles around them,” said NTSB spokesman Christopher O‘Neil. There have been other crashes involving self-driving vehicles but this was the first involving a self-driving vehicle operating in public service, O‘Neil said.


ARS Technica – The real lesson of that self-driving shuttle’s first-day accident

Designed by French company Navya, operated by another French company called Keolis, and sponsored by the city and American Automobile Association, the year-long pilot project was supposed to demonstrate the potential of slow-moving autonomous vehicles to change the transit industry. Instead, within hours, the project was greeted with the worst possible headline: "Self-driving shuttle bus in crash on first day."

Business Wire – TransEnterix Announces Senhance US Sale Agreement With Florida Hospital

TransEnterix, Inc. (NYSE American: TRXC), a medical device company that is pioneering the use of robotics to improve minimally invasive surgery, today announced that Florida Hospital entered into an agreement to purchase the Company’s Senhance Surgical Robotic System. The Florida Hospital Orlando campus will be home to the first commercial unit of the Senhance Surgical System to be installed in the United States.

CNBC – Delivering medical supplies into the remote Amazon is a big challenge, but drones could help

Delivering medical supplies into the heart of the Amazonian rainforest is no easy feat. So a group within BD, a medical technology manufacturer, is testing whether drones will do the trick. Juan Bergelund, a manager of UAV del Peru, said the drones are designed to land in soccer fields. And that the company is training locals on the ground about the technology, so they understand how to work and use it.

Forbes – New Mercedes Raises Question: What's The Right Amount Of Driving Automation Now?

Technological innovation is nothing new to the brand with the three-pointed star. Ever since Karl Benz drove his Patent Motorwagen for the first time more than 130 years ago, Mercedes-Benz has been a technological pioneer. Along with pioneering engine technologies like diesel and direct injection, active safety has been at the heart of the brand. After a week in the refreshed S560, I have to ask, is this a step in the right direction?

Popular Mechanics – Self-Driving Cars Could Soon Have Their Own Lane on the Highway

Self-driving cars in Wisconsin might soon have their own lane on the highway, if Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn gets its way. State money has already been dedicated to widening I-94, leading Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, to think the state was "ahead of the curve” on traffic issues, he tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “And we were all dumbstruck when they looked at us and said, ‘So where’s the autonomous vehicle lane?’”

The Detroit News – Carmakers grapple with robot-car hacking fears

Automakers are working to put self-driving cars on U.S. roads as quickly as they can, but developers are still grappling with questions about whether they can be hacked or tricked into making driving errors. “The current state of vehicles on the road today — the new, modern car, not even self-driving — have become rolling computers,” said John Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director.

ZDNet – Report: Artificial intelligence is creating jobs, generating economic gains

Early adopters of AI and cognitive technologies are reporting strong opportunities for economic gains and job creation, according to a study released this week by consulting firm Deloitte. The overall sentiment of organizations queried by the firm is positive about the role of cognitive technologies in their organizations. Nearly two thirds of the 250 "cognitive aware" US executives surveyed online already have training programs underway for employees to learn how to develop cognitive technologies or work alongside them.


Fox Business – Without Humans, Artificial Intelligence Is Still Pretty Stupid

If you want to understand the limitations of the algorithms that control what we see and hear -- and base many of our decisions upon -- take a look at Facebook Inc.'s experimental remedy for revenge porn. To stop an ex from sharing nude pictures of you, you have to share nudes with Facebook itself. Not uncomfortable enough? Facebook also says a real live human will have to check them out.

The Atlantic – How 'Self-Driving' Trucks Connected the Australian Outback

Fully loaded, road trains weigh up to 120 tons, and materialize on the shimmering horizon of outback roads as great mechanical beasts. As they pass at 70 miles per hour, you can feel the air velocity generated by the machine trying to suck you under the rig. Road trains are as much a part of the outback as red dirt or Akubra hats, signifiers of a rugged, Mad Max mythology that has come to define Australia’s interior in the global imagination. But there was a time when these same road trains were expected to transform the outback from what one Australian historian has called “a passionate and prolific Earth never yet tamed” into a settled, flourishing region.

Wired – Welcome to the Era of the AI Coworker

Last fall, Google Translate rolled out a new-and-improved artificial intelligence translation engine that it claimed was, at times, “nearly indistinguishable” from human translation. Jost Zetzsche could only roll his eyes. The German native had been working as a professional translator for 20 years, and he’d heard time and time again that his industry would be threatened by advances in automation. Every time, he’d found, the hype was overblown—and Google Translate’s makeover was no exception. It certainly wasn’t the key to translation, he thought.


Futurism – Bill Gates: Benefits of Robots, Healthcare AI Will Outweigh Pitfalls

Gates, who has previously warned about the challenges AI could bring, told audiences at a CNBC-moderated panel during the forum that the benefits of AI will far outweigh these potential pitfalls — particularly in the case of healthcare AI. “We are in a world of shortage, but these advances will help us take on all of the top problems,” Gates said, CNBC reports. “We need to solve these infectious diseases… We need to help healthcare workers do their job.”

The Atlantic – How Driverless Cars Will Change the Feel of Cities

It’s 6 p.m. in Tempe, Arizona and pitch-black outside. I’m standing in the middle of a five-lane thoroughfare, among a group of people too numerous for the narrow median. We got trapped here after a brigade of left-turning cars preempted our passage—that’s a thing that happens in cities like this one, designed for automobiles over pedestrians.

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Brazilian Amazon rainforest
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Brazilian thingsCC BY-SA 4.0