Satellites do need tech support now and then, but whom are you gonna call when a large metal and glass object hurtling through space needs a repairman?
One group of scientists believes it could deploy a robot to fix a broken antenna or a weakened panel. Ou Ma, a professor at the University of Cincinnati professor believes his group could develop robots –basically robotic satellites– that can be deployed to dock with a satellites and perform the necessary tasks. The details are here.
I found the story interesting because sending robots into space isn’t something new. But sending robots on ‘work’ related missions, rather than for mere exploration, might be an area that attracts funding. Robotics is often seen as dangerous, unnecessary, or too expensive.
In a related development, speaking of work, researchers at ASU are looking at how robots could augment, rather than replace workers in certain jobs. This story, in this month’s Thrive Magazine, looks at the human impact of robotics. There’s obviously an AI component to this. “What we can do instead is design our AI systems, our robots, in a way that will help people to come on board,” says Siddharth Srivastava, at the School for the Future of Innovation in Society
This is the topic, this week that I brought up at my robotics club meeting at Benjamin Franklin High School.
Have you seen this concept video? Robots that perform farming. It’s disturbing to say the least, to think that the field of robotics is being applied to areas we never used to anticipate. No longer ‘programmed’ robots, these are machines that learn and apply what we now call machine learning, to the environment they are placed in. For instance could a robot learn about —and work in consort with — other devices on the so-called farm. (It’s actually a greenhouse.).
To put it in context, if robots could shuttle between products on a shelves in an Amazon warehouse, this is just an extension of that – an industrial application. We are at the starting blocks of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, so these upheavals – technological, economic, environmental, social etc— are just beginning to show up. I’ve been critical of the rush to apply AI into everything, holding out some optimism that these players and industries might still need some humans, while replacing others.
It has been featured in Wired, and CNBC.
Also there’s another video worth watching.
Linked from the Futureoflife Institute
A few weeks back I featured an ominous exercise, conducted seven years ago by the Navy Research Lab.Today Artificial Intelligence is taking us into a new machine age, with devices, and not just robots, being able to grow ‘intelligent’ with data they glean from other machines we use.
Big players are developing capabilities in AI –from PwC and IBM, to Tesla and Alibaba!
For the October issue of LMD I was commissioned to write the cover story on AI. You can access it here.
Last July, our team went to to the kickoff Robotics tournament in DC.
This year, the team’s expanded to include students from other schools in the country.
- Students: Cong, Daniel, Felix, Hamza, Lasith, Navod, Sachin, Sherwin, and Syanthan.
- Coaches: Shankar, Jekhan, Dilum, and Srimali
This is one impressive gathering of 170 nations. It is hosted by the ‘FIRST’ organization, which is the umbrella organization that holds 5 other robotics tournaments around the country, such as FIRST Lego League Jr., FIRST Lego League, FIRST Tech Challenge, and FIRST Robotics for grades K-4, 4-8, 7 – 9, and 9-12 respectively.
I’ve worked with FIRST for the past 6 years, and met Dean Kamen, the founder, who’s one of the biggest STEM promoters I’ve ever known. He puts his money where his mouth is, a serial entrepreneur and educator who inspires youth across all ages. If you like to know how to get your school involved in robotics, or STEM, let me know.
If you’ve been following my robotics coverage here, I am happy to report on this year’s Team Sri Lanka, who will represent the country at the second Robotics Olympics. The event will be in August, in Mexico City.
I met with the team coaches in Colombo in mid June to find out how they have been progressing. They have been building the robot from the kit they received from First Global, under guidance of a engineer and IT teacher, Shankar. His expertise is in CAD design and he seems excited –though unfazed! — about his students who must build a robust competition-worthy robot.
At the time of writing they are working on a lift mechanism –a so-called ‘cantilever lift’ mechanism — that will allow the bot to move objects to the area that earns them maximum points.
In case you’re wondering, here’s what last years Robotics Team looked like.
There are four ‘Laws of robotics’ that are seldom discussed whenever the topic comes up. There were written by the late sci-fi author, Isaac Asimov. More like guide rails, these are practical laws.
With the rapid rise in automation, AI, and robotics from battlefield robots (developed by South Korea, the US, and who knows who else) and surgical bots, these issues are worth discussing. Why leave the issues of automation and robotics to academic and/or politicians?
In this month’s column in LMD, I discuss the pros and cons of robotics. You can read it here.
One month isn’t enough in Sri Lanka!