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The development of robotics and big data are putting pressure on the US workforce, with almost half of US jobs facing pressure from robots, according to a report issued by Citigroup and University of Oxford researchers.
Robots and automated technology have had an impact in factories and mid-level positions, but developments could lead to increased pressure on low-skill occupations, the report notes. To make matters worse, manufacturers are adopting the use of more robots in factories and offices, with the humanoids able to better complete tasks.
"The bulk of service occupations, where the most US job growth has occurred over the past decades, are now at risk," according to the report. "Already the market for personal and household service robots is growing by about 20 percent annually - a trend that is likely to continue."
Robot vacuums have been around for quite some time, with offerings from Roomba, LG and Samsung encompassing the offerings over many different department stores. If you've purchased one of these for yourself and enjoy napping on the floor, as do many South Koreans, you may want to be fully aware of your newly-found vicious floor predator.
Spanning several drama-filled minutes, a South Korean woman was recently assaulted by her robot vacuum cleaner - eventually managing to switch it off and notify authorities, who came to her aide and managed to pry the poor innocent woman's hair from the robots vice-like grip.
We've been warned of robot attacks in the past, this could be just the beginning. However on a more serious note - don't sleep on the floor when your robot vacuum is active, especially if you've got long hair.
This article is filled with sarcasm, the attack did happen - however we don't think that robots are trying to kill us, yet.
China is going to have the most robots working in production plants by 2017 when compared to other countries, according to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). The production facility is the main focus, but robots are finding their way into restaurants, hotels, offices, and retail stores as hardware and software develops.
South Korea has the most robots per 10,000 workers in the manufacturing industries, with 437, ahead of 323 in Japan, 282 in Germany and 152 in the United States. China currently tallies only 30 robots per 10,000 employees, but has been forced to rapidly adopt robots - and foreign automakers are building manufacturing plants in the country - helping drive adoption.
"Companies are forced to invest ever more in robots to be more productive and raise quality," said Gudrun Litzenberger, general secretary of the IFR, in a statement published by Reuters. "In the current phase it's the auto industry, but in the next two or three years it will be driven by the electronics industry."
Chinese drone maker DJI is planning to release a firmware update so its drones will no longer be able to fly inside of restricted airspace in Washington, DC. The update would also prevent aircraft from crossing the US-Mexico international border, after two recent high-profile incidents.
The first incident was when suspected drug smugglers working for a Mexican cartel crashed a DJI drone with several pounds of methamphetamine. In a separate incident, a drunk government employee accidentally crashed his drone onto White House property in an early morning accident.
With the unmanned aerial systems community growing on a daily basis, we feel it is important to provide pilots with additional tools to help them fly safely and responsibly," said Michael Perry, a spokesman for DJI, in a statement to reporters. "We will continue cooperating with regulators and lawmakers to ensure the skies stay safe and open for innovation."
With 1.3 million employees under their wing during peak production time, Foxconn Technology Group, the world's largest contract electronics manufacturer and maker of Apple devices, recently let slip that plans are being put into place to reduce their global human workforce, favoring a robot alternative.
Currently sitting as one of the largest private employers in the world, Foxconn reported slows in revenue growth over the last few years, coupled with rising Chinese wages. Group spokesman Louis Woo has stated that this is a concern for his company. Without mentioning a specific time frame or target for this operation, he noted that labor costs have over doubled since 2010. Speaking to media, Woo stated that "we've basically stabilized (our workforce) in the last three years. We would like to stabilize our employee headcount no matter how fast we are growing in the future."
When Woo was asked if Foxconn was looking to reduce its overall employee number, he answered that there were internal targets for long term cuts, however he was unable to disclose any figures, adding "it depends how successful we are in terms of introducing the process automation and also the robotics."
Ukrainian forces are overwhelmed by drones and electronic jamming from pro-Russian separatists, as electronic warfare shows how devastating it can be on the battlefield. Ukrainian soldiers lack proper training and equipment to stop continued artillery strikes, and cannot communicate with one another due to radio signals being jammed.
"It is very difficult for Ukrainian forces to be able to operate on radios, telephones and other non-secure means of communications because their opponents have such an exceptional amount of jamming capability," said Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, commander of US Army Europe, in a statement to reporters. "Even if you can acquire where mortar or rockets are coming from, to be able to do something about it is very difficult if you can't communicate."
In addition to electronic warfare, pro-Russian fighters are using drones to conduct surveillance operations - collecting intelligence on Ukrainian military defenses and locations. The drones likely originated from the Russian government, and have become vital in coordinated artillery and mortar strikes against Ukrainian soldiers.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a new statement verifying the Super Bowl is a "no drone zone," and anyone caught flying a drone near the stadium faces potential criminal charges. There is a mix between security and safety concerns and copyright regarding filming sporting events, so drone operators should avoid the potential headache.
"The FAA bars unauthorized aircraft - including drones - from flying over or near NFL regular- and post-season football games," according to a statement from the FAA. "The same restriction applies to NCAA college games in stadiums seating 30,000 or more fans, Major League Baseball games and many NASCAR events."
The FAA is struggling to create private and commercial drone flight laws, as the number of unmanned aircraft continues to rise in the United States. However, the FAA is straightforward when it comes to the Super Bowl and other major sporting events: "If you want to see video of the Big Game, watch it on TV. Leave your drone at home."
3D Robotics (3DR) has launched the DroneEDU program designed to provide free and discounted drone hardware, classroom support and partnerships to students, teachers and schools interested in drone research.
The program is available to grade schools to post-graduate study, with the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University already making use of the DroneEDU program.
"UAV technology can have an incredible impact in scientific study, with real-world applications in solving both historical mysteries and modern global challenges," said Brandon Basso, VP of software engineering at 3DR. "To realize that potential, we want to put UAVs in the hands of the next generation of innovators."
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) has opened up research that could lead to robots and surrogates being created to help expand military training. The University of Central Florida is lending a hand in research, with a human surrogate interacting with visitors at the Institute for Simulation and Training laboratory.
The ONR Human Surrogate Interaction program will focus on humans interacting with virtual and physical surrogates - and could lead to personnel training using robots. There will also be research focused on how the military can control surrogates for reconnaissance operations on the battlefield.
"Marine Corps training concepts continue to merge virtual and live components to create the most realistic, effective and affordable training for Marines," said Peter Squire, program officer of ONR. "The way people react to and interact with the different surrogates in this study is crucial to understanding how we can improve our military training systems."
It was only a matter of time - some crazy drone enthusiasts have weaponized a copter by strapping Roman Candles onto it, flying it around and seeing them shoot as targets. Filmed in POV mode, don't try this at home.
This is only the first step, next we'll be seeing gattling-gun drones and sharks with lasers hunting the human population one-by-one. The video was produced by a small-time YouTube channel called PIEROGRAM, with the video in question already topping 680,000 views at the time or writing this article.