Teresa Escrig

News and oppinion about Cognitive AI & Robotics

Archive for March, 2012

How to unlock your full potential by losing your fear to fail

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In my opinion, loosing the fear to fail is one of the most important attitudes we need to adopt to unlock the genius mind that we all have.

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” is the bottom line of this amazing talk by Regina Dugan, the director of DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, about people who do not decide their next step based on the fear to fail, but beside the fear to fail, they do it any way.

In this breathtaking talk she describes some of the extraordinary projects — a robotic hummingbird, a prosthetic arm controlled by thought, and, well, the internet — that her agency has created by not worrying that they might fail.

I personally would dedicate more thoughts to the actual use of the results of the research.  She could not give a straight answer to that question to TED’s director Chris Anderson.

It is absolutely worthwhile to watch.


Another semiautonomous car not from Google but from Continental

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Cognitive Robots is also leading a project to include the semiautonomous part of the Cognitive Brain for Service Robotics into school buses, to increase safety. This news is related with this project. Very interesting!

By: David Arnouts on 3/26/2012

A vehicle that drives itself has been a fantasy for many drivers since they encountered their first traffic jam. While a fully autonomous car is not quite here, Continental—yes, the same company that makes tires—has an experimental semiautonomous vehicle that will eclipse the magical 10,000-miles-on-road mark this month.

Its unassuming Volkswagen Passat is fitted with a plethora of safety and technology systems that the company has been developing and tweaking over the course of the project.

Vehicles equipped with a short-range LIDAR (light detection and ranging) system and/or LIDAR with the addition of a camera were repeatedly able to stop prior to hitting obstacles during road tests, even from speeds of up to 45 mph. On approach, the LIDAR system works to identify potential obstacles. Once a “point of no return” is passed, the system engages the brakes and stops the car before impact, albeit with just inches to spare. Behind the wheel the incident is mostly drama-free—while the car stops suddenly, it isn’t the kind of sudden, violent stop that reminds you of a B-rated action film. There are no squealing tires and no locked brakes; just firm, controlled stopping.

Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120326/CARNEWS/120329871?utm_source=DailyDrive20120327&utm_medium=enewsletter&utm_term=missedarticle7&utm_content=20120326-Continental_developing_experimental_semiautonomous_vehicle&utm_campaign=awdailydrive

Why Our Service Robots Needn’t Look Like Humans

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A must read article. Don’t miss it.

Updated March 22, 2012, 8:43 a.m. ET by Ben Rooney. The Wall Street Journal. Tech Europe

“Robots should be smaller, it should be helpful, it should be subordinate, it should be making sure that you are the master and not the robot,”. And above all it must not look too human. Our acceptance of robots increases as robots get more human-like but only up to a point. In a phrase first coined by the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori, get too human and they fall into the “Uncanny Valley”, that point on a graph that plots acceptance against how human like a robot is where acceptance falls through the floor. “If it gets too human-like, people are very fearful”.

By far the most engaging robot on display at InnoRobo conference hold this week in Lion, France) looked nothing like a human and an awful lot like a baby seal. Called Paro, it is designed to help patients suffering from dementia.

In a video shown by the inventor, Takanori Shibata of the Intelligent System Research Institute of Japan’s AIST, U.S. President Barack Obama is shown interacting with a couple of robots. The first is a humanoid one and it is clear he doesn’t really know what to do. Then he meets Paro.

While talking to Mr. Shibata, who is holding the pup, Mr. Obama almost subconsciously reaches out to stroke it. When we do that with all our robots, then we will be living in the future.

Read more: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304724404577295802833627644.html

European Commission – 80 billion euros fund for Robotics Research

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Very good news for the Robotics area.

by Staff Writers, Brussels, Belgium (SPX) Mar 15, 2012

THE European Robotics Forum, the largest Robot industry and academia gathering in the EU, was held this year at Odense, Denmark. Delegates heard a renewed commitment to Robotic R and D from the European Commission.

Khalil Rouhana, director for digital content and cognitive systems in DG INFSO in the European Commission, told the 350 delegates that Horizon 2020, a projected 80 euro billion research fund which is planned for the period from 2014 to 2020, will be one of the largest research and innovation budgets in the world.

Hospitals need robots

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Intelligent robots can be helping in hospitals and at home.

March 6th, 2012 – by Kent Bottles
IBM’s Watson is moving on from conquering “Jeopardy” to aiding health care providers by scanning the entire medical literature to help make diagnoses more accurate. A computer named Dr. Fill is even entered in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and expected to do well. Recent articles have speculated on what kind of physicians will soon be replaced by computer programs and robots, and artificial intelligence experts predict that medical diagnoses kiosks will soon be triaging patients in the third world.

Read the article: http://www.hospitalimpact.org/index.php/2012/03/06/p4009#more4009

Partnership between Texas Instruments and iRobot

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This is an important partnership. What still is missing is “intelligence” for the robots.

By Mar. 12, 2012, 8:29am PT

The chips that power today’s smartphones and tablets are expanding to robots as Texas Instruments and iRobot announced a new partnership on Monday. TI’s OMAP platform will be used by iRobot — maker of the Roomba and Scooba service robots — to help develop new robotic technologies.

The partnership is a fitting match. Between its home and government service robots, iRobot has sold more than 7.5 million units, helping to move the robotics market forward. Clearly, it’s a leader in this space. And Texas Instruments is no slouch in the chip department. The company’s OMAP platform powers a number of currently popular mobile devices, such as the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Motorola’s Droid Razr and the Amazon Kindle Fire.

Read more: http://gigaom.com/2012/03/12/why-texas-instruments-and-irobot-are-working-together/

UCLA professor wins $250K computing prize for AI

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The technology which has been awarded is similar to the IP developed at Cognitive Robots.

NEW YORK — A University of California, Los Angeles professor is the winner of a $250,000 computing prize for his work in artificial intelligence.

Judea Pearl was named winner of the 2011 A.M. Turing Award on Thursday, one of the most prestigious honors in computing.

Pearl, 75, contributed to the field of artificial intelligence by developing mathematical formulas that factor in uncertainty. That allows computers to find connections between millions of pieces of data, even when the information is incomplete or vague. His work has made it possible for computers to think more like humans, as humans often have to make inferences in decision making.

The award, named after the British mathematician Alan Turing, is given annually by the Association for Computing Machinery. Intel (INTC) and Google (GOOG) provide funding.


Kiva Robots sold to Amazon for $775 Million – imagine adding intelligence to the robots!

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Amazon just bought robotics manufacturer Kiva Systems for $775 million.  Kiva specializes in warehouse fulfillment robots.

While quick and precise, this technology was available 20 years ago, for autonomous forklifts in warehouses: following wires on the floor.

What remains missing is the addition of intelligence to the robots so that:

– The whole infrastructure of the warehouse floors – a costly investment in itself – wouldn’t be necessary.

– Any change in the environment or in the robots performance wouldn’t need to redefine the whole system.


Here is a video of the Kiva robots performance.

A more or less concise Historical Evolution of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence. From Plato to the 1990’s

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Lets first consider the historical evolution that shows man’s desire to build a machine like ourselves.  From philosophers and alchemists of the Middle Ages to 21st century scientists, the fascinating idea of creating a machine like the human being has endured.

The origins of Artificial Intelligence are attributed to the philosophers of antiquity. Plato (428 BC) wanted to know the characteristics of piety to determine if action could be regarded as pious.  This could be the first algorithm.  Aristotle conceived an informal system of syllogistic reasoning by which one could draw conclusions from premises, which became the precursor of reasoning.

Philosophers delineated the most important ideas related to artificial intelligence, but also needed a formalization of mathematics in three areas: computer science, logic and probability.   Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Teresa Escrig

March 14th, 2012 at 10:50 pm

The Service Robotics Revolution

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I have always thought that working at a repetitive task everyday simply for money should not be something that a person does. Life which is meant to be lived to its fullest, becomes an experience of surviving, not an expression of creativity, or fulfillment of every individual’s passion, full potential and purpose.

I have dedicated my entire professional life, almost 20 years of research, to developing a Cognitive Brain, which can be installed in almost any vehicle to transform it into an autonomous robot. One designed to serve individuals, commerce and industry in a variety of ways, without any human intervention. I clearly envisioned this future and had such passion that I created a whole research group to pursue that dream.

What does that future look like? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Teresa Escrig

March 14th, 2012 at 1:42 am