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Posts tagged ‘Robotics’

Robot That Can Blast Away Germs

Solaris Disinfection has had U.S. sales for its Lytbot robot that blasts away hospital germs using ultraviolet light says its Solaris Lytbot is the ideal weapon in the war against hospital-acquired infections such as C. difficile. The Lytbot cycles through a programmed pattern and fires pulsed UV light until it completes a 360-degree sweep of the room. The robot’s beams have a devastating effect on germ cells and bacteria spores through called “cellular disruption”.

On the other hand, Dr Kevin Katz of the North York General Hospital says most hospitals rely on products like bleach or activated hydrogen peroxide for infected surfaces.”I don’t think the evidence is there to use this technology to replace environmental cleaners in healthcare environments,” says Katz, who adds a recent Ontario health technology review of UV technology did not support the purchase of products like the Lytbot at this time.

What’s more, Katz is concerned cash-strapped hospitals would be tempted to use the robotic technology instead of old-fashioned human cleaners with mops and pails.

Adam Steinhoff, chief operating officer and co-founder of Solaris Disinfection, says he has had some success selling the Lytbot to U.S. hospitals, but Canadian health-care institutions have so far been hesitant and Lytbot isn’t meant to be a replacement for daily cleaning, but a supplemental method of disinfecting a room after traditional hand cleaning is done.

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The Virtual Home & Robots

Computer scientists have been working on teaching machines to do a wider range of tasks around the house. In a new paper spearheaded by MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and the University of Toronto, researchers demonstrate “VirtualHome,” a system that can simulate detailed household tasks and then have artificial “agents” execute them, opening up the possibility of one day teaching robots to do such tasks.Using Virtual Home, the MIT computer scientists have trained AI to do about 1,000 different tasks that one might expect a household robot assistant to be able to do. Robots trained in this way may oneday be a great help for the elderly or people who have trouble getting around, and perhaps even to the average person. But until they become useful, at least they’re entertaining to watch.

 

WImage result for japan's aging workforce in constructionWhile the rest of the world is worried that automation will make their jobs obsolete, Japan is scrambling to make sophisticated robots that can help it do exactly this as its workforce ages. This is especially the case in construction, where a significant number of workers are set to retire soon and there are not enough people to replace them. Unfortunately, even with robots, the challenges are still steep.

Among the biggest problems with using machines to replace humans in building entire skyscrapers is the sheer absence of versatility. Humans can easily scale beams and walls, but robots are still unable to do so. As Bloomberg also points out, it takes about 500,000 workers to erect even just one 30-story building.

Robots can replace workers by the dozens or even hundreds, depending on the task. Telemarketing can see an artificial intelligence take over for an entire floor or even building of workers, if necessary. This just isn’t the same with construction.

Among the companies that are trying to build enough robots to at least soften the blow of the retirement of many construction workers in Japan is the Shimizu Corp. and it’s trying to do so by building machines that can weld or install ceiling panels. Robots aren’t exactly a strange sight in construction these days, either, so this isn’t surprising.

Unfortunately, there are limitations to what these robots can do. Mobility is a particularly huge problem that still doesn’t have a viable solution.

 

Brooklyn’s New Lab Tech Hub

New Lab’s main corridor in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The 84,000-square-foot collaborative currently has 600 people working in the space. (Rich Gilligan)

New Lab’s main corridor in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The 84,000-square-foot collaborative currently has 600 people working in the space. (Rich Gilligan)

Located in New York is a former shipbuilding space at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, named New Lab, which is an 84,000-square-foot collaborative tech hub dedicated to entrepreneurs working on scalable technologies and products. New Lab supports companies in nine disciplines: robotics, AI, urban tech, the built environment, energy, connected devices, additive tech, life sciences, and nanotechnology. Members benefit from access to a dizzying array of fabrication labs, including 3-D printing, woodworking, casting, CNC milling, and electronics, along with access to free software, including Autodesk and SolidWorks.

The flagship tech hub opened in 2016 and was founded to provide a supportive center for those companies working at the forefront of technology and human experience and to ensure that they have a reason to stay in the city. David Belt, New Lab’s co-founder and CEO, is careful to stress that the lab is not an incubator—that is, it is not dedicated to helping companies at the beginning of their research or product-development cycles, but rather those that have concrete products and built technologies and are ready to take the next step.

Through a formalized arm of the company called New Lab Ventures—a $50 million venture fund—the lab itself invests in some of its member companies and currently has investments in 14 of them; the lab also connects members to the world’s leading venture funds. And a joint program called the Urban Tech Hub, in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), allows New Lab to support companies that strive to make a more livable, resilient city through their technologies and products. Additionally, the lab has other private-public partnerships in the works and a global partner network with Barcelona, Spain, and Copenhagen, Denmark, that offers other opportunities to members. New Lab currently has 103 member companies, with 600 individuals working at the space. Competition for entry is steep—just 15 percent of applicants are accepted.

Notable alumni include:

CARMERA

The founders see potential for their technology to be crucial for urban developers, autonomous vehicles, public transportation, and infrastructure. It allows for real-time, constantly updated 3-D mapping of cities.

Voltaic Systems

The portable solar power company creates lightweight solar panels and solar-powered solutions for people, products, and structures alike.

StrongArm Technologies

This company develops ergonomic solutions for injury prevention and peak performance for the industrial workforce, including the construction industry.

Terreform ONE

An architecture and urban think tank that advances ecological design in derelict municipal areas. Terreform is New Lab’s only nonprofit and its only architect-centric member.

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AI technologies like speech analytics, deep-learning platforms and natural language generation have exploded onto the scene in the past 12 months. Soon firms will be able to automate and scale in a more efficient way because software will ultimately be able to learn and adapt rather than require programming.

Automation will transform the workforce as technology advances result in humans increasingly working side by side with software robots These robots don’t herald a gloomy future for jobs. As we showed in our report. Working Side By Side With Robots, automation will replace some jobs and create others, with a net loss of 9.8 million US jobs by 2027 — while transforming at least 25 percent of the remaining jobs.

SONY To Launch Robotic Dog

The robotic dog will feature a bevy of sensors including a camera embedded in the nose, and will go on sale in Japan on Jan. 11 for 198,000 yen ($1,750), excluding tax, plus at least 90,000 yen for a three-year data plan,

Robotic Lawyers On The Rise

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The list of occupations that will be decimated by artificial intelligence and automation is becoming larger and larger with drivers, translators and shop assistants under threat from the rise of the robots,.Now you can add lawyers to the list.

A contest that took place last month pitched over 100 lawyers from many of London’s ritziest firms against an artificial intelligence program called Case Cruncher Alpha.

Both the humans and the AI were given the basic facts of hundreds of PPI (payment protection insurance) and asked to predict whether the Financial Ombudsman would allow a claim.

In all, they submitted 775 predictions and the computer won hands down, with Case Cruncher getting an accuracy rate of 86.6%, compared with 66.3% for the lawyers.

Case Cruncher is not the product of a tech giant but the brainchild of four Cambridge law students. They started out with a simple chatbot that answered legal questions – a bit of a gimmick but it caught on.

Two judges oversaw the competition, Cambridge law lecturer Felix Steffek and Ian Dodd from a company called Prediction, which runs one of the world’s biggest databases of legal cases. He says the youthful Case Cruncher team chose the subject for the contest well.

Ian Dodd thinks AI may replace some of the grunt work done by junior lawyers and paralegals but no machine can talk to a client or argue in front of a High Court judge. He puts it simply: “The knowledge jobs will go, the wisdom jobs will stay.”

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