Look at this man trying to stop a Boston Dynamics robot from opening a door

It's easy to imagine this quadruped robot with a prehensile proboscis is a living creature with awareness.

We really shouldn't be pissing off the machines... from PeopleBeingJerks
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When you realize robots really are going to steal your job

The future is givin me a frighten.

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Uptight Ottawa Catholics outraged that Archbishop allowed giant robot spider on cathedral roof

Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast has apologised to local parishioners who took offense at the brief presence of a giant robotic spider on the cathedral roof, placed there by the La Machine theatre troupe, who stage massive street productions involving robots and puppets (like the Sultan's Elephant and this amazing Jules Verne-inspired show). Read the rest

Just a headless robot scooping up free ice cream in San Francisco

First they came for the drumming jobs, now the robots are honing in on our ice cream serving gigs, as evidenced by this video by MrEricSir.

Outside of Bi-Rite Creamery on Sunday, a mysterious headless robot torso with no (known) name was found scooping up free ice cream.

MrEricSir writes:

A guy waving around a pair of HTC Vive controllers caused the two arms to scoop up ice cream and sprinkles...

The robot did seem to have a camera in its “head,” and I noticed there was an unused Vive virtual reality headset sitting on the table. The desktop PC controlling everything had a high-end GeForce GTX graphics card glowing from under the case’s grill which seemed capable of driving the headset. When I asked the operator if the VR headset worked with this contraption he confirmed that it does, though he said it’s difficult to see what he’s doing while wearing the headset.

I vote we anthropomorphize this robot as soon as possible. At the very least, Let's put a mannequin head on Icecream McIcecreamface.

(SFist)

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US Navy lab tests "disposable" microdrones that glide down from the sky

The US Naval Research Labs's CICADA (Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft) microdrones are designed to be dropped in bulk from a flying aircraft. Once airborne, the drones use autopilot to stabilize and then GPS and fins to steer to the intended location. Apparently they can glide into a safe landing within 15 feet of their targets. From IEEE Spectrum:

On landing, they transmit data from embedded sensors (a meteorological payload at the moment) back up to their launch aircraft through an antenna embedded in their wings, and each robot will continue to operate and send back data from the ground until its battery runs out...

“Every time I show up at a trade show, or talk with people about CICADA, it’s ‘oh, could you do this?’,” he said. “Chemical and biological sensing is a very interesting idea. There are other electronics you could put in it for seismic sensing along a road. Really, the sky is the limit. It’s just a flying circuit board, so anything you can integrate at the component level is fair game...”

“Right now, [CICADAs] would be ready to go drop into a hurricane or tornado,” he said. “I really would love to fly an airplane over, and each of these could sample in the tornado. That’s ready now. We’d just need a ride. And [FAA] approval.”

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American wages are so low, the robots don't want your job

The American "productivity paradox": technology keeps marching, but the amount of profit generated by the average worker's average hour is stagnant. Read the rest

Disney World's Hall of Presidents Trumpbot will speak after all

Disney has denied rumors that the Trumpbot in Disney World's Hall of the Presidents would not have a speaking role due to a combination of the president's toxic reputation, Disney employees' animus for him, and Trump's own unwillingness to schedule a recording session. Read the rest

The Balkan blobject robot at the 2073 Venice Biennale

Bruce Sterling's short story "The Beachcomber of Novi Kotor" is a monologue by a rogue Montenegran artist-roboticist, delivered at the 85th Venice Biennale, in a world where climate change has made venices out of all the world's low-lying cities, where Montenegro has been plunged into economic collapse by the precipitous departure of the neo-Czarist Russian oligarchs whose tourist trade it depended on. Read the rest

Machine vision framework wants you to put down your weapon

This is doing the viral rounds described as a Google technology, but it's actually Apple's VisionCore in action. It runs offline on the local device, requiring no number-crunching help from the cloud. Here's a breakdown of how it identifies things through code.

You will need the beta version of xCode and a device running the iOS 11 beta (make sure you only install the beta software on a test device!).

I liked watching it contemplate whether a metal ruler was a meat cleaver or a "chopper." Whispers of the ACLU lawsuits of tomorrow: I think you'd better do what he says, Mr. Kinney. Read the rest

Stunning photo of NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover seen from orbit

That bright blue object in the center of the photo is NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover as imaged by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter earlier this month. From NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory:

The car-size rover, climbing up lower Mount Sharp toward its next destination, appears as a blue dab against a background of tan rocks and dark sand in the enhanced-color image from the orbiter's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera. The exaggerated color, showing differences in Mars surface materials, makes Curiosity appear bluer than it really looks...

When the image was taken, Curiosity was partway between its investigation of active sand dunes lower on Mount Sharp, and "Vera Rubin Ridge," a destination uphill where the rover team intends to examine outcrops where hematite has been identified from Mars orbit.

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Look how fast these tiny Japanese sumo robots move

These little remote control vehicles are designed to push each other out of a small circle. They dart so fast that it's hard to keep up.

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This robot crawls up your butt to examine your colon

A colonoscopy is a very unpleasant selfie. The medical procedure involves having a long, thin, flexible camera inserted up your rectum and into your large intestine to look for ulcers, polyps, and tumors. Nobody looks forward to this. To improve the process, researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder's Advanced Medical Technologies Laboratory designed a worm-like soft robot that employs a wavelike motion, similar to the way the bowel moves, to make its way up your large intestine. From their research abstract:

Traditional colonoscopy requires highly trained personnel to be performed. Additionally, current devices may cause discomfort and carry the risk of perforating the bowel wall. In this paper, a soft three modular section robot is designed, modeled, controlled and tested. Each of the robotic sections has three degrees of freedom, one translation and two rotations. The robot uses a peristaltic motion to translate, inspired by the motion generated by the bowel.

The robot uses nine independently controlled Shape Memory Alloy (SMA) springs as its actuators and a novel silicone rubber skin provides the passive recovery force to expand the springs to their original state. It also incorporates three air tubes, one for each section, to provide forced convection reducing the cooling time of the SMA springs.

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Robots and humans, working together in harmony?

Rather than worry about robots overtaking us, it's more interesting (and realistic) to consider how we might collaborate with our machines. At Institute for the Future where I'm a researcher, we have forecasted how the real power of automation will come from "humans plus machines." BB pal Ken Goldberg, director of UC Berkeley's People and Robots Initiative, and his colleagues are making that real through their pioneering work on cloud robotics and human-centered automation. Forget the Singularity, Ken says. It's all about the "Multiplicity." From Ken's op-ed in the Wall Street Journal:

Most computer scientists agree that predictions about robots stealing jobs are greatly exaggerated. Rather than worrying about an impending Singularity, consider instead what we might call Multiplicity: diverse groups of people and machines working together to solve problems.

Multiplicity is not science fiction. A combination of machine learning, the wisdom of crowds, and cloud computing already underlies tasks Americans perform every day: searching for documents, filtering spam emails, translating between languages, finding news and movies, navigating maps, and organizing photos and videos...

While scientists still don’t understand Multiplicity very well, they are discovering clear benefits to machine diversity. Researchers have developed a family of techniques known as “ensemble learning,” in which a set of specialized algorithms work together to produce a single result. One variant, known as “random forests,” was developed by Leo Breiman and Adele Cutler at the University of California, Berkeley. They proved that in complex problems with noisy data, a group of “decision trees” will always outperform a single tree—so long as the trees are sufficiently diverse.

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Small space robot launches like a model rocket

This handheld, rocket-powered robot can leap about 30 meters and make a targeted landing. Once it's on the ground, it can then spin up and then abruptly brake its flywheel to jump forward or backward for a bit more mobility. Developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, the rocketeer robot could someday liftoff from a planetary or lunar lander or rover. The 450-gram prototype uses an Estes C11 rocket engine like those used in model rocketry! From IEEE Spectrum:

The robot is mounted on an angled rail and when it’s time to fly, it spins up its reaction wheel and sets off the primary rocket. The rocket launches the robot on a parabolic trajectory with a maximum range, in Earth gravity, of up to about 30 meters, which would increase to about 200 meters under lunar gravity. The reaction wheel minimizes the effect of the robot body tumbling during flight, keeping the robot going on a straight line: We held this little thing with the gyro wheel turned on during an interactive session at (the International Conference on Robotics and Automation), and it was impressively powerful: There was a significant amount of resistance to any kind of sideways rotation. Since solid-fuel rocket engines can’t be throttled, the opposing thrust motors are fired when necessary to alter the robot’s trajectory for a targeted landing. It’s a fairly effective technique, and in their tests the standard deviation of a series of launches decreased from 1.2 to 0.29 meters, or four times more precise than without the opposing rockets.

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Dr. Octopus getting real with this robotic contraption

MetaLimbs is a robotic system that provides the wearer with an extra pair of arms. The mechanical arms are controlled by the user's legs, feet, and toes. The researchers from Keio University and the University of Tokyo will present their work at next month's SIGGRAPH 2017 conference in Los Angeles.

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Kickstarting Evezor, an open robot that can carve, draw, engrave, pour, pick, place, cut, weld, print, grab, mill, assemble and create

We are introducing Evezor, a robot that can carve, draw, engrave, pour, pick, place, cut, weld, print, grab, mill, assemble and create your next project or business. Powered by Raspberry Pi, open source software and hardware, Evezor is the most hackable robotic arm there is. Evezor can share and automate the hand tools you already own and with open toolhead platform, anyone can make tools for this machine. Read the rest

Robot riding on turtle's back steers it with "carrot-on-a-stick" technique

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology attached small robots to the back of turtles and enabled the machine to steer the animal by delivering it snacks. Eventually, they hope to use similar systems to control fish and birds. The technology could lead to parasitic robot/animal "teams" for surveillance, exploration, and disaster response. From New Scientist:

The robots comprised a processor, a frame that stuck out in front of the turtle’s head holding five red LEDs spaced apart, and a food-ejecting tube. They then had to ride their turtle through five checkpoints in a tank filled with water...

The turtles were first conditioned to associate a lit-up LED with food. The robot then simply guided it using the LEDs and fed it snacks as a reward for going in the right direction. Using this process, five robot-turtle pairs successfully completed the course, and each sped up with practice.

"Parasitic Robot System for Waypoint Navigation of Turtle" (Journal of Bionic Engineering)

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