robots

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Stephen Hawking has made a surprise appearance at the opening night of the Web Summit tech conference in Lisbon, Portugal. Paddy Cosgrave, the CEO of Web Summit, opened the conference last night and invited a number of speakers to join him on stage.

CEO and founder of Portuguese start-up Feedzai, Nuno Sebastiao, started off by saying that Artificial Intelligence is an “incredible tool” but still at its “early stages of development so we also need to ensure its being put to good use in our world.”

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You may have heard of advanced Bayesian calculations (ABCs), perhaps in the context of how computers are used to study climate patterns and how these will change in the near future. ABC is the basis for how computers can achieve inference as a result of the data it is fed. Inference is an important part of the process by which predictions that our brains make on an everyday basis match up with the available objective evidence.

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Artificial intelligence has reached unbelievably great heights, going so far as new-age robots can, if not completely take over jobs, at least challenge the human mind and psyche, as some researchers believe.

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It might seem that the kinematics of exactly how albatross maintain their flight over hundreds of miles per day would only be of interest to biologists however, a team of engineers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have found that the flight patterns of these gigantic birds could well be used for a number of applications in other areas of scientific research.

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Robots are becoming more and more common in our everyday lives. Many people may own, or aspire to own, high-end toys that, while they may not be perceived as robots, fall into that category. These include quadcopter drones and AI-powered, remote-controlled toys such as the Sphero™ line of products. Robots also serve practical ends, in the form of automatic cleaning machines including Roombas™. As robots become more and more a part of normal life, the ability to program, control and even design them may be an increasingly useful and necessary skill.

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Some of us may think of robots as machines we’ve created to mimic human or animal motion, gait, gestures and forms. They are also very often designed to manipulate things in a way that approximates the human ability to do so, in order to complete tasks and automated processes. However, there are engineers and scientists who assert that robots would be more effective, adaptable and useful if they conformed to more unique or interchangeable form factors.

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Imagine a classroom where a robot stands in front of a group of students, setting them individualised tasks and making sure each student completes this to the best of their ability. A human teacher is on hand to check on students’ work and to maintain discipline if necessary, but it’s the robot which will be responsible for creating learning plans for each student as well as monitoring their progress both within a lesson and over the course of an academic year.

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The flying car is not a thing – although technology enthusiasts born in the 1980s or later may be disappointed by that fact. Many of us may be secretly dissatisfied that having the choice between taking to the roads or the air is not an everyday amenity as yet. The technology that makes the personal or family flying vehicle is still in its very early stages. The most recent Consumer Electronics Show (CES) exhibitions showcased a few single-person planes or helicopters, but these were either concept showcases or prohibitively expensive.

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A group of leading robotics and Artificial Intelligence experts have become so concerned about the potential dangers relating to the use of lethal autonomous weapons in the future that they have written an open letter to the United Nations (UN), asking them to ban the development and subsequent use of this technology.

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Solar farms made of multiple large-scale panels are becoming increasingly efficient. This, in turn, is influencing their popularity as an alternative energy source for regional and national power grids. Despite this, a range of environmental particles and dirt types can impact on the ability of solar panels to gather energy. When this material comes into contact with solar cells, they may disrupt the panels, by either reflecting or absorbing sunlight, which in either case reduces the efficiency of the panel as a whole.

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Recent joint research efforts in the fields of intelligent robotics and autonomous agents has focused not only on the emergent intelligence of a single device, but also on their capability to work together, and coordinate activity in specific contexts. A robot designed and constructed by a joint group of researchers from Osaka University, Kobe University, Tohoku University, the University of Tokyo, and Tokyo Institute of Technology, has an impressive ability to assess and assist in disaster relief situations.

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Scientists at Harvard University have demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, soft robot. It is named “Octobot” and is a revolutionary idea in the field of robotics. It was named after the octopus, an animal that inspires scientists working on soft robotics, since it can use its arms with strength and dexterity despite having no internal skeleton.

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As you sit in your garden on a summer’s day, you may well enjoy the gentle humming of honey bees diligently collecting pollen in the background. Would you miss that sound if it was no longer there, or think about the consequences? Whilst many of us are now aware that a wide variety of bee species are in decline, we don’t often think about the implications of their potential extinction.

But, if we don’t protect these little insects the future may not look that bright for us either.

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It has been established that robots can easily perform tasks that we give them. But, it was noticed that the digits of their robotic arms were missing a certain dexterity when the bots held or picked up objects with odd structures and those of smaller configurations, sometimes squashing or destroying them.

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In recent years, researchers have created automatic planners. The International Conference on Automated Planning and Scheduling hosts a competition, in which machines try to give the best solutions for planning problems. Now, we can have scheduled a flight, taken a drive or coordinated tasks for teams of autonomous satellites, which is so important for the automated process of machines.

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Infertility and a struggle to conceive can result in emotional and mental stress on affected couples and their families. Endless Doctors’ appointments, rounds of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and the threat of miscarriage all weigh heavily on people’s minds.

One of the leading causes of this problem has been found to be slow swimming or abnormal male gametes, or sperm. Medical treatments such as artificial insemination and IVF have improved chances of conception but also have their own problems including high costs and average success rates reportedly under 30%.

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Ever observed the agility of an insect? Mimicking the locomotion of bees, cockroaches, earthworms, larvae etc, presents immense potential and application in the world of technology and robotics. The ability of these creatures to navigate challenging environments in their biological state has awed and (bio)inspired scientists!

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Many of us might assume that with the arrival of the digital age, the function of libraries will naturally cease to exist. Although this is partly true and in some ways a worrying trend, there is hope for these institutions. Many book enthusiasts, children, college students and professors still insist on the sanctity of libraries and visit them frequently for educational purposes, leisure reading or otherwise. There’s nothing like a good old book in hand!

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One of the most ambitious smart-road projects, the Cooperative ITS Corridor, started about one year ago in Europe, and it is expected to shepherd cars from Rotterdam through Munich, Frankfurt, and on to Vienna without a single interruption, by warning drivers of upcoming roadwork and other road obstacles. Within the project, technically cooperative systems relying on V2X-communication (vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication) are tested under real traffic conditions.

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The Cooki robotic chef, together with the food ecosystem Foodi from the small startup company Sereneti Kitchen, is the technology that many are waiting for to gain confidence when entering the kitchen. All you have to do is to provide the ingredients to Cooki and just wait for your ready meal! The main idea is that Foodi ecosystem will bring back into our kitchen the fresh ingredients and the exploration of the food world, and to start to forget the frozen pre-packaged meals and non-healthy food delivery.

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