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Researchers from Northwestern University have monitored the swimming styles of the black ghost knifefish, cuttlefish and Persian carpet flatworm to create custom computer simulations. Using collected data, a "Ghostbot" has been created, in an effort to hopefully design next-generation underwater robots.
Following a study published in PLOS Biology, researchers are now studying 22 different animls that move around using undulation-oscillation.
"There is a real need for underwater vehicles that are more maneuverable than the current things we use for disaster recovery or inspection of structures underwater," said Malcolm MacIver, one of the contributing senior authors of the study, said in a statement published by CBS News. "They are non-maneuverable, which results in things like with the BP oil disaster, the robots banging into oil well heads or what have you."
There is a major demand for skilled engineers and researchers with a background in artificial intelligence, with Google, Amazon, Facebook, and other companies recruiting. There currently aren't very many commercial uses for AI, but no one wants to be caught out as machines are expected to play a larger role in the future.
"There's a massive battle under way for talent," said Oren Etzioni, head of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, in a statement published by the WSJ. "Virtually every professor at the UW computer-science department has been called many times to work at these companies, and frankly it's a very compelling pitch."
To help foster tomorrow's talent, companies are helping invest in - and create - research labs for universities with strong engineering programs. Even with concerns related to AI one day possibly spiraling out of control, lucrative partnerships and working relationships are being nurtured.
There could one day be 1 million drone flights per day in the United States by 2035, according to the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is slowly embracing commercial drone flights, while consumers are increasingly flying drones for a number of recreational purposes.
On the commercial side, farmers can now use drones to spray crops, and survey their property. Real estate agents and Hollywood film studios have also found use for drones, after receiving government approval.
"This is a billion-dollar technology market literally just waiting to take off," said Brian Markwalter, senior vice president of research for the CEA, in a statement. "We see a dynamic market with tremendous growth potential," as the FAA continues to study commercial drone flights over US soil.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted farmers the ability to use the RMAX drone, which can hold fertilizer and pesticide tanks. The drone weighs more than 200 pounds and was developed by Yamaha, and is the first drone craft that can carry a significant payload.
The FAA has been careful in approving aircraft for commercial use, with farmers using small drones for agricultural purposes. The drones are mainly taking pictures and helping land owners inspect their crops, and for little else.
However, using drones for precision spraying will help limit costs, and keep material costs down - in such cases as vineyards, which can be difficult to access by ground workers.
For better or worse, the robotics revolution is underway, and it's continuing to happen regardless of some concerns expressed by humans. In Japan, a leading robotics research nation, engineers hope that robots can play a role in helping close the workforce gap due to an aging population.
Toshiba's Aiko Chihira humanoid robot is currently on display in a Tokyo department store, where it recently performed a few songs alongside a human band. Nestle is testing SoftBank's "Pepper" robot as a method to help sell coffee machines, while other companies hope the robot is able to engage in store visitors.
The Huis Ten Bosch theme park located in Nagasaki will feature a hotel that has more than 90 percent of hotel services conducted by robots alone. There are no easy answers for Japan, which has an aging population that is only getting older, so adopting robots could prove to be an effective way to ease pressure on the workforce.
NASA is working with the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and FlexSys to test a new morphing wing technology that uses a seamless flexible edge. The Adaptive Compliant Trailing Edge (ACTE) provides major improvements when compared to conventional flaps that are used on aircraft today.
"Armstrong's work with ACTE is a great example of how NASA works with our government and industry partners to develop innovative technologies that make big leaps in efficiency and environmental performance," said Jaiwon Shin, associate administrator of the NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directatorate. "This is consistent with the agency's goal to support the nation's leadership in the aviation sector."
The NASA Langley Research Center will now study flight tests to help create designs used for large transport aircraft.
Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is concerned about the future of humans and artificial trying to co-exist, believing the future could be "very bad for people." During a recent speech in Massachusetts, Wozniak spoke about how computers might not be the best thing for humans - even though he helped start one of the biggest computer companies in the world.
"The machines won 200 years ago," Wozniak said during a speech at the MassMutual Center last week. "We made them too important. That makes us the family pet." Wozniak has expressed concern that humans could one day lose control of artificial intelligence, which would pose a major threat to mankind.
Woz also spoke out about the reliance on computers to help try to educate students, though that can't be effective if class sizes are too big. "A lot of our schools slow students down. We put computers in schools and the kids don't come out thinking any better."
Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin, a space venture company, successfully test launched its New Shepard spacecraft last week. The New Shepard reached 307,000 feet, powered by a 110,000-lbf thrust liquid hydrogen, liquid oxygen BE-3 engine. The boundary between Earth and space is 62-miles above the Earth's surface, so the New Shepard maximum altitude of 58 miles was close to the limit.
"Any astronauts on board would have had a very nice journey into space and a smooth return," Bezos said in a blog post. "In fact, if New Shepherd had been a traditional expendable vehicle, this would have been a flawless first test flight."
The space capsule demonstration was successful, but the reusable rocket booster was unfortunately not recovered. Bezos said his company is working on an improved hydraulic system, and hopefully the next launch will not lose pressure during its descent.
Small businesses want to see if robots are able to drive sales and increase productivity, unfortunately at the expense of human workers.
Robots are estimated to carry out 25 percent of all industrial tasks by 2025, according to the Boston Consulting Group - and almost half of US jobs face "high risk" of being automated in the next 10 to 20 years, according to co-directors of the Oxford Martin Programme on Technology and Employment.
"Automation is having a big impact. It's both positive and negative," said Martin Ford, author of the "Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future" book, which will be published later this month, in a statement to CNBC. "Business will need to hire no people or fewer people. You can literally have one person start a manufacturing business."
The Toshiba ChihiraAico humanoid robot was first shown off during CEATEC last year, and recently completed a 15-minute singing performance alongside humans. Although Toshiba designed the robot to speak to department store guests, including using Japanese sign language, a singing performance was a unique way to promote the robot.
Robots are being featured in an expanding role, especially in Japan, with designers hoping to show off their humanoids without scaring off visitors.
"We chose a very realistic appearance and movement, which can be used for the service industry," said Hitoshi Tokuda, marketing head for the business development division at Toshiba, in a press conference earlier in the year. "We plan to extend our technology to an automatic response. We plan to use [ChihiraAico] with elderly people who have conditions such as dementia and she can be connected to a counselor or doctor."