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The cheetah-inspired robot created by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has an innovative new skill: it can successfully jump over obstacles. The robot, which can run a maximum 10 miles per hour, is becoming even more impressive ahead of the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals next month.
Researchers equipped the robot with a LiDAR system that uses laser to detect items, with the cheetah quickly creating a virtual map of its surrounding area.
"It's the first legged robot to be able [to] leap hurdles like this autonomously," said Sangbae Kim, MIT research team lead, in a statement. "Many other robots can move faster on wheels, or maybe jump higher, but they can't do it on their own."
The use of virtual reality can help medical patients suffering from strokes and other major brain conditions regain control over themselves, researchers believe.
The Virtual Reality Medical Center is using VR to help medical patients re-learn motor functions, such as walking, sitting, or holding an item. Letting patients work in a virtual environment is a great first step, helping ease embarrassment or discomfort before they physically try to move again.
"What we do first is teach a person how to control their body and thought process," said Brenda Wiederhold, EVP of the Virtual Reality Medical Center, in a statement to CNBC. "Then we put them in VR and have them practice those skills in the virtual world so they feel confident they can use them in the real-world."
It's possible 47 percent of jobs in the United States could be at risk because of robotics taking over, according to a report from Citigroup and the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford. Trying to find solutions to better train and educate employees will be required, and humans in the workforce must be willing to expand their skills.
The education system's poor preparation of workers transitioning from high school or university in the workforce has to be changed. Automation is expected to displace even more workers in the future, according to Joe Seydl, senior associate of the Citi Global Economics Team.
"This time, bigger portions of our economy are being disrupted by new technology," Seydl said in a statement to the Christian Science Monitor. "I think it's going to come down to policy: supply-side and demand-side policies. Supply-side means making sure workers have the skills to compete for jobs in the 21st century. This is going to come down to education and whether we can upgrade workers' skills fast enough."
Unmanned drones and other military vehicles aren't new, and it looks like robots and autonomous hardware could be the future. However, there are legal and ethical questions when it comes to weapons systems that are able to identify and engage targets with no human interaction.
The idea that a robot or drone can detect its target and begin firing at the target without a human operator is frightening - but something that more researchers believe is feasible. There is a concern, however, that robots would be unable to accurately identify enemy combatants and civilians. Though there is a counter-argument that robots would cause less collateral damage than humans remotely operating the drones.
"Technologies have reached a point at which the deployment of such systems is - practically, if not legally - feasible within years, not decades," said Stuart Russell, an AI researcher at the University of California, Berkeley, in a commentary published in "Nature." The AI weapons "have been described as the third revolution in warfare, after gunpowder and nuclear arms."
Senior citizens are finding motivation and entertainment out of a 22-inch humanoid robot leading physical therapy classes. The Zora robot was originally poised to become an assistant in hotels, but designers and programmers found a more appealing market in healthcare.
Previously, Zora has been used to interact with young children, helping teach them basic motor function and keep them stimulated. There are more than 6,000 elderly citizens in Belgium, France and the Netherlands use the robot to stay engaged, listening to news articles, weather forecasts, and following dance and exercise routines.
"A lot of elderly people are actually feeling alone. Solitude is something which is horrible for the moment for a lot of elderly people," said Fabrice Goffin, co-creator of the Zora robot, in a statement to Washington Post. "People don't have all the time to visit their families and they can find some kind of relationship with the robot and that is a nice thing to do."
When robots are deployed in space, often dispatched to study harsh and unknown environments, they must be able to adapt if a mechanical problem arises. Much like an animal in the wild has to make adjustments due to injury or environmental change, researchers are inspired to create ways for robots to make changes.
A hexapod robot that uses one robotic arm and six legs had to endure damaged or missing legs while trying to move across the floor in a straight line. A different test required ping pong balls to be dropped into a stationary cup, even with the robotic arm broken.
Researchers were tasked with creating an algorithm so robots were able to successfully complete assigned tasks, even while working in less than optimal physical condition. The study found it was possible to have "robots behave more like animals by endowing them with the ability to adapt rapidly to unforeseen circumstances."
Speaking during the World Business Forum, Wozniak expressed concern about AI becoming a major threat to our survival:
"The most important thing for the future, which all of the leaders of our time with brains like Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk and Bill Gates are talking about as the biggest threat to humanity, is that once machines have intelligence and can think themselves, that's a turning point," Wozniak said.
Will artificial intelligence pose a threat to mankind? Around 18 percent of AI experts feel there could be an 'existential threat' to mankind, a new report from Oxford University indicates. Oxford University researchers interviewed 500 AI experts and half of those surveyed appear optimistic, saying AI should be "good" or "extremely good" for humans.
AI will match human ability between 2040 and 2075, with an eventual transition to "super intelligence" within the next century.
... this creation could, in turn, create yet higher intelligence, which could, in turn, create yet higher intelligence, and so on... so we might generate a growth well beyond human ability and perhaps even an accelerating rate of growth: an 'intelligence explosion,'" according to the paper.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will now be able to launch satellites and other national security payload for the US government, after receiving US Air Force certification.
The certification could help break a stranglehold on the United Launch Alliance, a nine-year-old space venture created by Boeing and Lockheed Martin. SpaceX is muscling its way into conducting launches for NASA and Department of Defense, so it will be interesting to see how ULA responds in the future.
"SpaceX's emergence as a viable commercial launch provider provides the opportunity to compete launch services for the first time in almost a decade," said Deborah Lee James, Air Force Secretary, in a statement. "Ultimately, leverage of the commercial space market drives down cost to the American taxpayer and improves our military's resiliency."
New aircraft already rely on sophisticated computers, and government agencies are openly discussing robots and remote operators flying commercial aircraft. Commercial aviation flies millions of passengers around the world each year and already utilizes computer autopilots - and there is greater discussion to how much human interaction is needed to fly commercial aircraft.
"The industry is starting to come out and say we are willing to put our R&D money into that," said Parimal Kopardekar, manager of the autonomous operations project at the NASA Ames Research Center, in a statement to the New York Times.
Pilots currently only spend minutes actually piloting planes, with pilots of Boeing 777s saying they operate the aircraft for about seven minutes - and pilots of Airbus planes spending less than four minutes piloting their aircraft.