Building a Better Robot for the Week Ending November 2, 2014



Building a Better Robot is intended to be a high level summary of robotics related news from the previous week.

10/30/14 – AI researchers say Elon Musk’s fears ‘not completely crazy’
The big story last week, was obviously Elon Musk’s “summoning the demon” comment in regards to AI. What I didn’t see much coverage of was the response from those involved in AI and robotics development. “High-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk made headlines when he said artificial intelligence research is a danger to humanity, but researchers from some of the top U.S. universities say he’s no so far off the mark.”

10/28/14 – The Turing Test 65 years on: what we’ve learnt
A quick overview of Alan Turing and his ‘imitation game’ which is widely referred to as the Turing Test. The idea of the Turing Test is to see if a human interrogator involved in an arbitrary conversation with a human and a computer, and not knowing which is which, can tell them apart. Recently ‘Eugene Gootsman,’ in reality a software program modeled after a 13 year old boy, was believed to have passed the test. Upon closer examintion, it was determined that the program had not passed. From there, the article goes on to discuss the the Winograd Schema Challenge as an alternate test. This new alternative is designed to draw on common sense knowledge of the world.

“An example would be:

The town councilors refused to give the angry demonstrators a permit because they advocated violence. Who advocated violence?

Answer A: the town councilors

Answer B: the angry demonstrators

For humans, the answer is clearly B. However, most AI systems lack the everyday common sense knowledge to support such
simple conclusions”

10/31/14 – NASA Is Kicking Space Station Technology Up to the Next Level
NASA talks about advances with the SPHERES – “Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient Experimental Satellites that are in use on the International Space Station. They’ve been upgraded with Android smartphones to enhance their vision and intelligence. For the first time, the SPHERES will be venturing beyond the Japanese Experiment Module next month. Eventually they will be allowed the run of the entire space station.

10/27/14 – Grabit uses Electroadhesion for good grip on objectes
The company Grabit is developing a robotic hand, initially for industrial and packing use, that makes use of electrostatic attraction. “It uses powered electrodes to sustain the electrostatic attraction, and alternating polarities to avoid charge buildup and keep the device from collecting dust.” The article goes on to mention this technology could go on to address consumer, biomedical and military needs.

10/30/14 – Kaka Robotics Corporation Chills Out to -30° C
In a press release from Kaka Robotics, they announced they would debut the KR QUANTEC PA Arctic series of Palletizing Robots to the North American market at Pack Expo 2014. The interesting thing here is that these robots are designed for use in sub- zero temperatures. “No suits, bags or robot protection needed.” Pack Expo is a trade show for the Packaging and Processing industry and is being held between 11/1/14 and 11/5/14 in Chicago.

10/27/14 – QUT students win big with Bruce the Robo-Boat
Australian students from QUT placed 3rd out of 15 in the International Maritime RobotX Challenge that took place in Singapore the previous week. The challenge was to build an autonomous boat that could handle a series of tasks such as navigation, detection and avoidance of objects, and underwater location. In addition to the technical challenges, they also had to deal with heat and rain. Of interest to me is that, in addition to being an autonomous robot, Bruce is also a boat.