Saturday, March 24, 2018

Robopocalypse Report #101


Mini, really mini, drones.

Amazon is patenting drones that understand your hand motions.

In Arizona, north of Flagstaff, a drone crash caused a 335 acre wild fire.

In Britain, aircraft/drone near misses have tripled.

Britain might shed its beyond line of sight regulations for drones.

BMW is helping to build the world's fastest racing drone.

DJI is building 1,000 custom drones for the construction firm Komatsu.  Or is it Skycatch?

Drones and art...

A drone used an origami inspired robotic arm.

Drone Delivery Canada has been testing in the US, specifically NY.

Drone deliveries are coming really soon to the US.

Drones hunting drones is about to be a thing, too.

The FAA expects the commercial drone industry to quadruple by 2022.

Facebook and Uber are interested in testing drones in Kenya.

Ford wants to build drones.

Awards for the GeniusNY competition will amount to $3 million.

Flying Legos, folks.

LeveTop has a new form factor for drones.

Riga is becoming a haven for drone development.

A Russian hobby drone reached 33,000 ft.

A Russian billionaire intercepted a drone.

Walmart has applied for a patent on using drones to pollinate plants.

Walmart is patenting drones that will help customers.

Self Driving Cars:

An Uber self driving car hit and killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona.  Uber, as a result, has halted its self driving car tests.  Uber may not actually be at fault.  However, the video of the incident would argue otherwise, I'd say.  Others agree and have far, far harsher words for Uber (Theranos of self driving cars?  ouch).  Experts are saying a human, paying attention, would have easily avoided the accident.  The tech clearly failed.  The Uber sensor provider is just as baffled as everyone else.

Many companies developing self driving cars have suspended driving their vehicles on public roads in the aftermath: nuTonomy and Toyota for two.  Toyota's suspension of testing is indefinite.

Sharing info is vital for making self driving cars safer.  The accident may slow down development and deployment of self driving cars.  Washington, DC isn't likely to change legislation for self driving cars because of the accident.  Arizona is not interested in changing legislation.

Some are very angry over the reactions to the death caused by the Uber car.

Uber had been considering selling its self driving tech to Toyota.  That may not be possible since Uber's miles driven before a driver must take control is only 13 vs 5,600 for Waymo and 1,200 for GM.

A loop hole might allow self driving cars companies to avoid being sued.

Could solar storms cause problems for self driving cars?

The US Senate has been considering a self driving car bill, but Democrats have been citing concerns with it due to the Tesla Autopilot problems.

Apple has more self driving cars in California than Google, ahem, Waymo does.

Aston Martin is looking at the autonomous vehicle future.

Baidu will continue its testing after the Uber crash, but in Beijing.

Ford thinks drones could compensate for failed self driving car sensors.

GM is spending $100 million on production ready self driving cars and their production starts next year...

GM's Cadillac poked fun at Tesla's Autopilot.

Hyundai is taking a conservative approach to self driving cars, especially after the Uber accident.

Land Rover will be testing its self parking capabilities in London.

Lyft has teamed up with Magna for its self driving car ridesharing.

MIT is developing ways to improve self driving car sensing in fog.

Norway has unleashed autonomous snow plows at one of their airports.

Torc Robotics has been testing their self driving car in the snow.

Volkswagen feels China might drive the self driving car market.

Waymo has a video of riders getting used to a self driving car.


Fedex is embracing the robopocalypse.

Neato has a voice commanded vac bot.

Picking strawberries appears to be actually hard for robots.

A soft robotic UUV is attempting to study fish.

A Turkish company has unveiled a humanoid robot.

Robots at SxSW.

India now has automated subways thanks to Bombardier.

Toyota uses robots for its rough road tests.

Robopocalypse comes for basketball?!  Robots can shoot better hoops than humans can.

The Robopocalypse might short circuit Africa's assent through manufacturing.

The Xprize Foundation is offering a $10 million prize for robotic avatars.

A pipe crawling bot is going to help DOE decommission a nuclear facility.

A agbot helps with data collection for precision farming.

And the robopocalypse comes for...artists?


A brain interface adds the sense of presence to prosthetic arms.

Brain scanning got easier.

Emotiv demoed a headset that allows you to mentally control drones and other electronic devices.

Implantable sensors can relay health data via cell phone.

Software Bots:

AI has taken a look at gender bias in Hollywood.

AI can tell gender based on smile.

AI has spotted a lot of viruses.

AI diagnostics must be deployed with care.

Alexa has a brief mode for less chattiness.

Amazon is supposedly readying an Alexa for business.

One of the original developers of Apple's Siri is surprised at how limited the assistant still is.

Siri won't be reading hidden notifications anymore.

EA is teaching AI to play Battlefield 1.

Google built a hardware interface for its AI music maker.

Google has open sourced its Exoplanet Hunting AI.

Google is building better bots to recognize eye disease.

Google has been intentionally damaging the neural net behind DeepMind to better understand how they work.

IBM's Watson is coming to vehicles.

Machine learning is being applied to notifications on your phone.

Machine learning is also classifying types of cancer.

Microsoft has stated its AI can translate Chinese to English as well as a human can.

A new test could tell whether AI has common sense.

There are new ways to classify and generate music using bots.

How accurate is your AI?

3d Printing:

The US AFRL demoed 3d printing of high temperature carbon fiber composite parts.

The USAF also funded a 3d printer with 4 different printing methods in one machine (it costs $350k, currently).

LSEV claims it has the first production 3d printed car.

Lawsuits are being filed over 3d metal printing patents.


A new group has been formed to forecast problems with AI.

Walmart is attempting to embrace the robopocalypse.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Deep Space Gateway gets a new Name, Support, Accelerated Timetable in Budget Proposal

The Trump Administration is proposing to formally start a cislunar space station program and begin assembly early in the next decade with launch of the first element. The Power and Propulsion Element (PPE) is the core module of the station, now named the “Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway” (LOP-G).

As a part of commercial space industry initiatives for human exploration, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 NASA budget request submitted by the President to Congress in February also proposed an accelerated, dedicated commercial launch of the PPE in 2022.

The PPE was previously scheduled to launch as a secondary payload on Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2), which is currently planned to be the first crewed Orion spacecraft mission launch on NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. With the PPE no longer on the EM-2 manifest, NASA is evaluating changes to that mission, including aspirations of flying the Habitation module on a more ambitious flight for Orion’s first crew.


Some proposals for the gateway were suggested.

More info on the DSG/LOPG.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

SEC Starting to Regulate Cryptocurrency Exchanges, Warns Investors

The SEC has been zeroing in on cryptocurrency since the beginning of the year. The agency announced it would scrutinize companies generating hype by pivoting to crypto before delving deeper into initial coin offerings with subpeonas. But today the agency turned its attention to people buying cryptocurrencies, warning consumers against trusting so-called 'exchanges' that state or imply that they're protected by federal law. Spoiler: They aren't, because the cryptocurrency world remains an unregulated mess.

It comes down to semantic wording. Whether or not these online trading platforms consider the 'digital asset' cryptocoins they're trafficking to be 'securities' under federal law, the SEC likely does. That means they satisfy the agency's definition of 'national security exchanges' and should register with the SEC. If they don't, they remain outside of government scrutiny and regulation, meaning the agency can't protect individuals from any manipulative or fraudulent practices.

"Many platforms refer to themselves as "exchanges," which can give the misimpression to investors that they are regulated or meet the regulatory standards of a national securities exchange. Although some of these platforms claim to use strict standards to pick only high-quality digital assets to trade, the SEC does not review these standards or the digital assets that the platforms select, and the so-called standards should not be equated to the listing standards of national securities exchanges," the SEC stated in a post.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Twitter may ban Cryptocurrency, ICO ads

Twitter may soon join Facebook and Google in cracking down on ads for cryptocurrency-related products. Sky sources have claimed the social network will institute worldwide ban against ads for initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency wallets and token sales within the next two weeks. It might also ban ads for cryptocurrency exchanges with "some limited exceptions," according to the apparent leak.

The company told Engadget it had no comment at the moment.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Google is Banning Cryptocurrency Ads in June

Google is cracking down on cryptocurrency-related advertising.

The company is updating its financial services-related ad policies to ban any advertising about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice, Google's director of sustainable ads, Scott Spencer, told CNBC.

That means that even companies with legitimate cryptocurrency offerings won't be allowed to serve ads through any of Google's ad products, which place advertising on its own sites as well as third-party websites.

This update will go into effect in June 2018, according to a company post.

Monday, March 19, 2018

A US City Banned Cryptocurrency Mining

The city of Plattsburgh, New York announced on Thursday that it is temporarily banning the commercial mining of cryptocurrency for 18 months. 
The official reasoning for the moratorium is to "protect and enhance the City's natural, historic, cultural and electrical resources." 
Plattsburgh residents have seen skyrocketing electrical bills — as much as $100 to $200 increases — as a result of commercial cryptomining operations that mine for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, according to Plattsburgh Mayor Colin Read, who spoke with Motherboard. The city is taking action to protect its citizens from those rising electrical bills that the city of Plattsburgh says is caused by cryptomining operations.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

US Navy Remains Committed to Railguns

Following a flurry of reports in December predicting the Navy's $500 million electromagnetic railgun experiment was dead on arrival, the chief of Naval Operations told lawmakers this week that the death of the program was greatly exaggerated.

"[We are] fully invested in railgun; we continue to test it," Adm. John Richardson told the House Appropriations subcommittee on defense during a Wednesday hearing on Navy and Marine Corps budget issues. "We've demonstrated it at lower firing rates and ... shorter ranges. Now we have to do the engineering to, sort of, crank it up and get it at the designated firing rates, at the 80- to 100-mile range."

Richardson was responding to a question from Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who expressed concern about the proven capability of the Navy's railgun weapon, which has yet to leave its test site at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division, Virginia.