High-Speed Robot Arm Hands Off Package to Delivery Drone

Urban delivery drones have their work cut out for them. We’re not really sure whether the whole business model for urban delivery by drone will ultimately make sense, but for it to have a chance at working, drones will certainly benefit from being as energy efficient and time efficient as possible. The biggest waste of time and energy happens during pickup and delivery, where the drone is hovering rather than moving. Hovering is necessary since these drones may be often delivering things (like food and beverages) that need to be kept mostly upright and not delivered by a parachute or something. If you were imagining the ideal drone delivery system, though, it would involve drones flying about at full speed, somehow picking up and delivering items safely without ever having to slow down. The pinpoint accuracy required by something like this isn’t something that we’re likely to see on a drone anytime Continue reading High-Speed Robot Arm Hands Off Package to Delivery Drone

Microsoft President Brad Smith talks data, Covid-19, and a potential “digital 9/11”

In a virtual discussion hosted by MIT last week, viewers learned that there are many problems that concern Microsoft President Brad Smith: things like climate change, Covid-19, and the work of the future. Attendees also learned how seriously he takes the issue of computer security: 45 minutes into the event, his Windows system automatically rebooted for a lightning-quick software update. “There are a lot of benefits to working from home,” he said with a laugh after rejoining, “but it certainly also adds a level of unpredictability.” Smith’s conversation with MIT Professor Daniela Rus on May 14 spanned a wide range of topics, from the challenges of Covid-19 to the security of online voting. The fireside chat was held as part of MIT’s “Hot Topics in Computing” series, founded by the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). The series is now an Institute-wide effort being co-presented with the MIT Stephen Continue reading Microsoft President Brad Smith talks data, Covid-19, and a potential “digital 9/11”

Fireflies helps companies get more out of meetings

Many decisions are made and details sorted out in a productive business meeting. But in order for that meeting to translate into results, participants have to remember all those details, understand their assignments, and follow through on commitments. The startup Fireflies.ai is helping people get the most out of their meetings with a note-taking, information-organizing virtual assistant named Fred. Fred transcribes every word of meetings and then uses artificial intelligence to help people sort and share that information later on. “There’s a tremendous amount of data generated in meetings that can help your team stay on the same page,” says Sam Udotong ’16, who founded the company with Krish Ramineni in 2016. “We let people capture that data, search through it, and then share it to the places that matter most.” The tool integrates with popular meeting and scheduling software like Zoom and Google Calendar so users can quickly add Continue reading Fireflies helps companies get more out of meetings

The Short, Strange Life of the First Friendly Robot

Photo: Kagaku Chishiki Face Time: Makoto Nishimura [left] and his team designed Gakutensoku’s head so that it could express human affect. In 1923, a play featuring artificial humans opened in Tokyo. Rossum’s Universal Robots—or R.U.R., as it had become known—had premiered two years earlier in Prague and had already become a worldwide sensation. The play, written by Karel Čapek, describes the creation of enslaved synthetic humans, or robots—a term derived from robota, the Czech word for “forced labor.” Čapek’s robots, originally made to serve their human masters, gained consciousness and rebelled, soon killing all humans on Earth. In the play’s final scene, the robots reveal that they possess emotions just like we do, and the audience is left wondering whether they would also achieve the ability to reproduce—the only thing still separating robots from humans. The play was deeply disturbing for Makoto Nishimura, a 40-year-old professor of marine biology at the Continue reading The Short, Strange Life of the First Friendly Robot