U.S. will unveil data-sharing platform for autonomous vehicle testing

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(Reuters) — On Monday, U.S. auto safety regulators will unveil a voluntary effort to collect and make available nationwide data on existing autonomous vehicle testing.

 U.S. states have a variety of regulations governing self-driving testing and data disclosure, and there is currently no centralized listing of all automated vehicle testing.

California, for example, requires public disclosure of all crashes involving self-driving vehicles, while other states do not.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is unveiling the Automated Vehicle Transparency and Engagement for Safe Testing (AV TEST) initiative to provide “an online, public-facing platform for sharing automated driving system on-road testing activities.”

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Can the Uber model transform freight?

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 Freight brokerage is ripe for disruption, write Dr. Walter Rentzsch and Dr. Wilfried Aulbur

The disruption of digital platforms in brokerage-based businesses is just one of the many ways our world is increasingly becoming digitised.

Special report: Can the Uber model transform freight?

Take the travel agency business as an example. Until the late 1990s, travel agencies dominated the market for travel bookings. The arrival of the internet enabled customers to book their vacation without going through an agency. The simplicity and cost savings of this model motivated customers to use online platforms. Penetration grew continuously despite initial adoption hurdles for some customer groups. Today most standard trips are booked online, and the number of travel agencies has declined by a third over the last decade.

The logistics industry is another brokerage-based business that is beginning to see the underpinnings of a similar disruption. Truck freight start-up funding has grown over past years. While start-ups have raised about US$180m in VC funding between 2011 and 2016, the last few years saw investment increase to US$470m. A large number of new players emerged, some of which reached unicorn status with valuations over one billion dollars, such as Convoy or Flexport. To understand where these companies play, a closer look at the US trucking market structure is necessary.

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Self-driving cars won’t eradicate the car crash, study says

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While self-driving cars won’t get distracted or drive drunk, that only accounts for a third of wrecks that occur, according to the insurance industry.

Self-driving cars likely have a long, long way to go.

In a blow to hopes for a future free of car crashes with the coming of self-driving cars, a study released Thursday by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows totally driverless cars would have a difficult time achieving such a goal.

The IIHS looked at more than 5,000 police-reported crashes from the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey, which the insurance industry-funded group said represents vehicle crashes that resulted in one car towed and required emergency medical services.

Combing through the files, the IIHS then sorted the crashes into five categories: sensing and perception; predicting; planning and deciding; execution and performance; and incapacitation errors. Self-driving cars will be able to eliminate sensing and perception errors, or crashes that result in the driver’s distraction, and autonomous technologies won’t be subject to the influence of drugs or alcohol. So, that takes incapacitation errors out. From the sample, that accounts for 34% of crashes. Let’s note the figure is not an insignificant number of crashes automated cars could prevent — 2 million a year in the US alone.

“It’s likely that fully self-driving cars will eventually identify hazards better than people,” said Jessica Cicchino, IIHS vice president for research, “but we found that this alone would not prevent the bulk of crashes.”

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Restaurants are in need of a helping hand. Miso Robotics is offering one. Literally

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Flippy the robot flips cooks burgers to perfection.

Dining out looks pretty different these days. It’s natural to pine for the past, but many quick service restauranteurs are also looking ahead to a future where automation will be the key to drastically increasing their notoriously thin margins and allowing their workers to shine in the tasks no machine can do.

Robots in the workplace can get a bad rap—most people aren’t trying to get replaced by one. But the smartest and most innovative robotic companies aren’t designing teams of droids that send people packing. Instead, they’re crafting intelligent machines that work alongside workers, increasing efficiency and profits in the process.

Take Flippy, the arm-like robotic kitchen assistant from Miso Robotics. As its name implies, the robot flips burgers, cooking them to perfection. Miso Robotics has already raised over $2mm in their investment campaign on SeedInvest, which is still open to investors. The company also recently unveiled Flippy’s newer, more versatile cousin, Robot on a Rail (ROAR). Suspended from an overhead railing rather than standing on the floor, the machine can perform tasks like frying onion rings and preparing chicken tenders. When the orders are ready, it lets its co-workers know, and can clean up after itself by doing dirty and time-consuming jobs like scraping down grills.

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Nuro partners with CVS Pharmacy to deliver medicines using its autonomous vehicle

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Nuro is partnering with CVS Pharmacy to deliver medicines using its autonomous vehicle.

 Starting this month, the “first-of-its-kind partnership” brings Nuro into the health space as the startup utilizes its fleet of autonomous vehicles to deliver prescriptions and essentials across three zip codes in Houston, Texas.

Pharma is the third industry sector in which Nuro will introduce its autonomous vehicles.

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An artificial skin made with graphene could revolutionize robotic surgery

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Computer and Robot Assisted Surgery is an area receiving broad attention worldwide because of its strong potential to advance new levels of healthcare. In Europe, the robotics and cognitive science communities have been independently pursuing research in this field, making significant, but fragmented contributions. Furthermore, strong surgical instrument manufacturers are now present in Europe.

Robotic surgery is minimally invasive, meaning that instead of operating on patients through large incisions, doctors use miniaturized surgical instruments, helped by a camera on a console located in the operating room. In the past two decades, a growing number of complex urological, gynecological, cardiothoracic and general surgical procedures are being performed at an increasing number of worldwide hospitals. The benefits for the patient are fewer traumas on the body, minimal scarring and faster recovery time than traditional procedures. And it is a safe and controlled environment as humans are always guiding the surgical robots and specifying what actions they take.

The high cost of surgical robots has been a barrier, but the global market for surgical robots is experiencing a compound annual growth rate of 10.4%, from $3.9 billion in 2018 to $6.5 billion by 2023, according to Markets and Markets.

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The Self-Driving car race between Tesla, GM and Ford takes a big turn

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Tesla’s Autopilot uses a different guiding technology than GM’s Super Cruise and Ford’s new ADAS.

It took Tesla years to convince the old automobile world that electric is the future and drag the world’s largest gasoline carmakers into the race of electric vehicles. Now, the Elon Musk-run EV pioneer, which recently surpassed Toyota to become the world’s most valuable automaker, is leading a different game in the auto world: self-driving cars—or, more realistically, semi self-driving cars, at least for now.

Tesla’s hands-free driver assist system, Autopilot, has been in the market for nearly six years, with software updates released every few months, each edging the vehicle closer to fully self-driving. However, due to the inherent high risk of this feature (Autopilot is believed to have played a role in at least three fatal crashes due to driver misuse), most of Tesla’s EV rivals had been hesitant to develop competing technologies until recently.

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Dog-like robots now on sale for $75,000, with conditions

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FILE – In this May 24, 2018, file photo, a Boston Dynamics SpotMini robot walks through a conference room during a robotics summit in Boston. Boston Dynamics on Tuesday, June 16, 2020 started selling its four-legged Spot robots online for just under $75,000 each. The agile robots can walk, climb stairs and open doors. But people who buy them online must agree not to arm them or intentionally use them as weapons, among other conditions.

You can now buy one of those unnerving animal-like robots you might have seen on YouTube — so long as you don’t plan to use it to harm or intimidate anyone.

Boston Dynamics on Tuesday started selling its four-legged Spot robots online for just under $75,000 each.

The agile robots can walk, climb stairs and observe their surroundings with cameras and other sensors. But people who buy them online must agree not to arm them or intentionally use them as weapons, among other conditions.

“The key goal for us is to make sure people trust robots,” Michael Perry, the company’s vice president for business development, said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Somebody wanted to use Spot for a haunted house and we said no to that. It frames the robot in a negative context.”

The terms and conditions state that “Spot is an amazing robot, but is not certified safe for in-home use or intended for use near children or others who may not appreciate the hazards associated with its operation.”

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The robots continue to invade the fast food sphere

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A KFC in Moscow sends chicken along a conveyor belt to be delivered by a robotic arm.

The last dispatch from The Takeout’s robot beat was May 5. That’s six whole weeks during which the robots, unbothered by our human troubles, continued making advancements in their quest to replace the human race. As is so often the case, they have set their sights on a new way to optimize fast food, perhaps understanding that this is where they can exert the most influence over us.

Humans have generally understood for decades that the robots have been coming for our jobs, with a capacity for automation that renders many human workers obsolete—in theory, anyway. Recent estimates show that by 2030, a whopping 38% of American jobs will be eliminated in favor of automation. Now, with the entire world in the clutches of a pandemic, it’s possible that humans have begun to warm to the robots, which are not perceived to be as germ-covered as humans and can better facilitate social distancing measures (plus, you know, companies don’t have to pay them a living wage). With that in mind, KFC is currently testing “fast food of the future” in Moscow. Take a look:

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Robots will take 50 million jobs in the next decade. These are the skills you’ll need to stay employed

A new report finds that automation will take over a significant part of work activities in Europe by 2030.

 In the next 10 years, robots will take over 50 million jobs.

More than 90 million workers across Europe (about 40% of the total workforce) will have to develop significant new skills within their current roles in the next ten years, as automation puts 51 million jobs at risk, warns a new report from analyst firm McKinsey.

And almost all of today’s European workers will face some degree of change as their jobs evolve because of technology. But although the statistics seemingly feed into a common fear of robots taking over our jobs, quick conclusions needn’t be drawn: the research also shows that employment growth in other sectors will largely compensate for overall job loss.

So much, in fact, that Europe might find itself short of up to six million workers by 2030. As new opportunities emerge in fields like technology, for example, McKinsey anticipates that finding sufficient workers with the required skills to fill the jobs that are being created on the continent will be challenging.

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AI autonomous cars and the problem of where to drop off riders

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Having the AI self-driving car know where to drop off human passengers is a puzzling problem not high on the priority list of developers.

Determining where to best drop-off a passenger can be a problematic issue.

It seems relatively common and downright unnerving that oftentimes a ridesharing service or taxi unceremoniously opts to drop you off at a spot that is poorly chosen and raft with complications.

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Robot waiters serve drinks and take temperatures at this Dutch restaurant

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View of a serving robot at restaurant Dadawan on May 28, 2020 in Maastricht, Netherlands. Robots will serve food and drinks to the customers as well as to measure body temperature before customers enter the restaurant. Restaurants and cafes will re-open in The Netherlands on June 1st. as part of the Coronavirus lockdown ease.

Robots have been hired to greet customers, take their temperatures and serve them drinks at a restaurant in the Netherlands.

Dadawan, an Asian-fusion restaurant in Maastricht, reopened on 1 June as part of measures to ease lockdown restrictions in the Netherlands. And to help with social distancing, the restaurant has hired three robots named Amy, Aker and James. The humanoid robots have mechanical arms, torsos and LED-lit faces and take on some of the customer-facing tasks to reduce person-to-person contact.

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