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Sep 28, 2023

What It Takes to Pick a Million Boxes

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

This article was written by Grant Aylward, product manager – warehouse robotics, and Lauren Miller, director of autonomy & behavior for Stretch.

We reached a big milestone with Stretch at the end of August—since shipping to customers in January 2023, Stretch robots have moved more than 1 million customer boxes. We designed Stretch to automate the strenuous work of unloading trailers and containers for greater safety and efficiency, and the demand has been tremendous. Stretch takes on the labor of repetitive lifting and lowering of heavy loads, and keeps the flow of goods moving so warehouses can meet demand. Stretch robots are tackling that work every day with customers like DHL and Maersk.

Stretch remains a very early-stage product. Our first prototype Stretch robot powered on in 2019, and we kicked off our first long-term installation at a customer site just this year. So, how did we get to 1 million boxes with such a young robot? As we developed Stretch over the past few years, we worked closely with potential customers to understand warehouse environments and operations and to refine our product to meet their need. As we shifted from Boston Dynamics’ long legacy of R&D work to commercializing robots, we also put certain structures and practices in place to get the robot out of the lab and into the real world. This involved three major efforts: increasing performance, robustness, and reliability of our robot; focusing on safety; and building amazing partner relationships.

Sep 28, 2023

Amazon invests up to four billion dollars in OpenAI competitor Anthropic

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Amazon is buying itself and its customers’ priority access to Anthropic’s foundational models.

As Amazon announced in a press release, the online retailer and cloud provider plans to invest up to four billion US dollars in the AI startup Anthropic. Amazon has thus secured an important partner in the field of generative AI. Anthropic is best known for its chatbot Claude, which competes with OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Anthropic moves to the AWS cloud.

Sep 28, 2023

Mapping Early Visual System in Wasps Provides AI and Neural Insights

Posted by in categories: mapping, robotics/AI

Summary: Neuroscientists have achieved a groundbreaking feat by mapping the early visual system of a parasitic wasp, smaller than a grain of salt.

Utilizing advanced imaging technologies, they reconstructed the entire system at the synaptic level, a first for any animal. Despite its miniature size, the wasp’s brain exhibited immense complexity, with functions and neural circuits paralleling larger brains.

This research not only deepens understanding of neural principles but also holds potential for enhancing artificial intelligence.

Sep 28, 2023

Meta’s metaverse is getting an AI makeover

Posted by in category: robotics/AI

Meta has a new, AI-centric, strategy to sell the public on its vision for the metaverse.

Sep 28, 2023

Offering Hope through Better Treatments and Care

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health

After being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 5 and relapsing twice, Emily appeared to be out of treatment options.

Learn how research advances gave Emily her health back.

Learn how advances in cancer treatment and care have improved patients’ quality of life.

Continue reading “Offering Hope through Better Treatments and Care” »

Sep 28, 2023

India’s Moon Lander Fails to Awaken After Long Lunar Night

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, space travel

India became only the fourth nation ever to land a spacecraft on the Moon earlier this summer. The Chandrayaan-3 mission is still technically underway, but its days may be numbered. After waiting several weeks for the lunar night to end, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) reports that the mission’s Vikram lander and Pragyan rover remain offline.

Chandrayaan-3 arrived in orbit of the Moon in July, right alongside Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft. The uncrewed missions were both angling to be the first to touch down in the Moon’s southern polar region, an area where NASA hopes to send astronauts in the coming years. Russia was on course to land first, but a system error caused the vehicle to crash instead. That left India to land at its leisure, which it did on Aug. 23.

According to the Chandrayaan-3 team, they’ve attempted to contact the lander and rover now that the sun is shining again. However, no signals have been received from the surface. It’s possible Vikram (see above) and Pragyan are well and truly dead after several weeks in the frigid night. However, the ISRO hasn’t given up hope. Even if the batteries are empty, the hardware may still be working. Given some time to soak in the rays, the robots could still come back online.

Sep 28, 2023

The Giant Magellan Telescope’s final mirror fabrication begins

Posted by in categories: chemistry, cosmology

The Giant Magellan Telescope begins the four-year process to fabricate and polish its seventh and final primary mirror, the last required to complete the telescope’s 368 square meter light collecting surface, the world’s largest and most challenging optics ever produced. Together, the mirrors will collect more light than any other telescope in existence, allowing humanity to unlock the secrets of the universe by providing detailed chemical analyses of celestial objects and their origin.

Last week, the University of Arizona Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab closed the lid on nearly 20 tons of the purest optical glass inside a one-of-a-kind oven housed beneath the stands of the Arizona Wildcats Football Stadium. The spinning oven will heat the glass to 1,165°C so as it melts, it is forced outward to form the mirror’s curved paraboloid surface. Measuring 8.4-meters in diameter—about two stories tall when standing on edge—the mirror will cool over the next three months before moving into the polishing stage.

At 50 million times more powerful than the human eye, “the will make history through its future discoveries,” shares Buell Jannuzi, Principal Investigator for the fabrication of the Giant Magellan Telescope primary mirror segments, Director of Steward Observatory, and Head of the Department of Astronomy at the University of Arizona. “We are thrilled to be closing in on another milestone in the fabrication of the Giant Magellan Telescope.”

Sep 28, 2023

Free will: Can neuroscience reveal if your choices are yours to make?

Posted by in categories: biological, genetics, neuroscience

Philosophers have wrestled with the question of whether we are truly free to decide on our actions for centuries. Now, insights from genetics, neuroscience and evolutionary biology are shedding fresh light on the issue.

By Clare Wilson

Sep 28, 2023

What’s a Qubit? 3 Ways Scientists Build Quantum Computers

Posted by in categories: information science, mobile phones, particle physics, quantum physics, supercomputing

A complete quantum computing system could be as large as a two-car garage when one factors in all the paraphernalia required for smooth operation. But the entire processing unit, made of qubits, would barely cover the tip of your finger.

Today’s smartphones, laptops and supercomputers contain billions of tiny electronic processing elements called transistors that are either switched on or off, signifying a 1 or 0, the binary language computers use to express and calculate all information. Qubits are essentially quantum transistors. They can exist in two well-defined states—say, up and down—which represent the 1 and 0. But they can also occupy both of those states at the same time, which adds to their computing prowess. And two—or more—qubits can be entangled, a strange quantum phenomenon where particles’ states correlate even if the particles lie across the universe from each other. This ability completely changes how computations can be carried out, and it is part of what makes quantum computers so powerful, says Nathalie de Leon, a quantum physicist at Princeton University. Furthermore, simply observing a qubit can change its behavior, a feature that de Leon says might create even more of a quantum benefit. “Qubits are pretty strange. But we can exploit that strangeness to develop new kinds of algorithms that do things classical computers can’t do,” she says.

Scientists are trying a variety of materials to make qubits. They range from nanosized crystals to defects in diamond to particles that are their own antiparticles. Each comes with pros and cons. “It’s too early to call which one is the best,” says Marina Radulaski of the University of California, Davis. De Leon agrees. Let’s take a look.

Sep 28, 2023

The Tree of Life Is Losing Entire Limbs, Jeopardizing Evolution

Posted by in category: evolution

Humanity is about to suffer.

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