Microsoft’s AI Research Draws Controversy Over Possible Disinformation Use

AI capable of automatically posting relevant comments on news articles has raised concerns that the technology could empower online disinformation campaigns designed to influence public opinion and national elections. The AI research in question, conducted by Microsoft Research Asia and Beihang University in China, became the subject of controversy even prior to the paper’s scheduled presentation at a major AI conference this week.

Autonomous system improves environmental sampling at sea

An autonomous robotic system invented by researchers at MIT and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) efficiently sniffs out the most scientifically interesting — but hard-to-find — sampling spots in vast, unexplored waters. Environmental scientists are often interested in gathering samples at the most interesting locations, or “maxima,” in an environment. One example could be a source of leaking chemicals, where the concentration is the highest and mostly unspoiled by external factors. But a maximum can be any quantifiable value that researchers want to measure, such as water depth or parts of coral reef most exposed to air. Efforts to deploy maximum-seeking robots suffer from efficiency and accuracy issues. Commonly, robots will move back and forth like lawnmowers to cover an area, which is time-consuming and collects many uninteresting samples. Some robots sense and follow high-concentration trails to their leak source. But they can be misled. For example, chemicals can get Continue reading Autonomous system improves environmental sampling at sea

Better autonomous “reasoning” at tricky intersections

MIT and Toyota researchers have designed a new model to help autonomous vehicles determine when it’s safe to merge into traffic at intersections with obstructed views. Navigating intersections can be dangerous for driverless cars and humans alike. In 2016, roughly 23 percent of fatal and 32 percent of nonfatal U.S. traffic accidents occurred at intersections, according to a 2018 Department of Transportation study. Automated systems that help driverless cars and human drivers steer through intersections can require direct visibility of the objects they must avoid. When their line of sight is blocked by nearby buildings or other obstructions, these systems can fail. The researchers developed a model that instead uses its own uncertainty to estimate the risk of potential collisions or other traffic disruptions at such intersections. It weighs several critical factors, including all nearby visual obstructions, sensor noise and errors, the speed of other cars, and even the attentiveness Continue reading Better autonomous “reasoning” at tricky intersections

We’re at IROS 2019 to Bring You the Most Exciting Robotics Research From Around the World

The 2019 IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS) is taking place in Macau this week, featuring well over a thousand presentations on the newest and most amazing robotics research from around the world. There are also posters, workshops, tutorials, an exhibit hall, and plenty of social events where roboticists have the chance to get a little tipsy and talk about all the really interesting stuff. As always, our plan is to bring you all of the coolest, weirdest, and most interesting things that we find at the show, and here are just a few of the things we’re looking forward to this week: Flying robots with wings, tails, and… arms? Spherical robot turtles An update on that crazy jet-powered iCub Agile and tiny robot insects Metallic self-healing robot bones How to train robots by messing with them A weird robot sea urchin And all that is happening just Continue reading We’re at IROS 2019 to Bring You the Most Exciting Robotics Research From Around the World