Pickle Robot raises $26 million to develop robotics for unloading trucks

Pickle Robot, a startup developing robotic automation systems that unload trucks, says it has “live pilot implementations” which are unloading tens-of-thousands of packages per month at customer sites in the greater Los Angeles area.

BY MARK ALLINSON

The company says it has also raised $26 million in series A funding led by Ranpak, JS Capital, Schusterman Family Investments, Catapult Ventures, and Soros Capital.

Additionally, Pickle Robot has added growth-oriented industry veterans to its leadership team to accelerate commercialization of the company’s flagship robotic unload systems. 

Founded in 2018, Pickle Robot tackled a number of warehouse challenges using industrial robots built on core AI software, computer vision, and advanced sensors.

The company says it is “laser-focused” on applying its technology to one of the most labor-intensive, physically demanding, and highest turnover work areas in logistics operations: truck unloading.

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MIT Researchers Discover A New, Faster AI Using Liquid Neural Neurons

The “liquid” neural network allows AI algorithms to adapt to new input data.

By Jace Dela Cruz

Artificial neural networks are a method that artificial intelligence utilizes to simulate how the human brain functions. A neural network “learns” from input from datasets and produces a forecast based on the available data.

But now, MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (MIT CSAIL) researchers found a faster method to solve an equation that is employed in the algorithms for “liquid” neural neurons, according to a report by Interesting Engineering. 

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High-power electrostatic actuators: the future of artificial muscles

Using ferroelectric materials, researchers have been able to create a high-power electrostatic actuator that can generate a strong force at a low driving voltage creating new opportunities for artificial muscles

Electrostatic actuators work by using elective fields, enabling them to move objects. However, until recently, their usage has been limited to moving small devices as a high voltage is needed to generate any significant force.

Researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) believe they have created a simple yet lightweight device capable of emulating human muscles by generating a strong force at a low driving voltage.

A simple device capable of emulating human muscles

Consisting of two oppositely charged electrodes, the device generates a force whenever an electric field develops between them. By altering the shape of their electrodes along with filling the gap between them with flexible, soft materials, the team from Tokyo Tech have created various configurations for electrostatic actuators in which a force can emulate that of operating muscle.

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Waabi reveals first-generation autonomous truck technology

By CALLUM BROOK-JONES

Self-driving technology developer Waabi has announced the release of its Waabi Driver autonomous truck technology. The solution utilizes the company’s proprietary artificial intelligence-first autonomy stack as software which works in combination with sensors and compute as hardware. The complete system has been designed by Waabi to enable factory-level OEM integration, in addition to large-scale commercialization and the safe deployment of the autonomous technology.

Waabi driver is described as an end-to-end trainable system that learns from data to speed up development. This enables the autonomous truck technology to learn complex-decision making to ensure it can operate safely on roadways.

Waabi’s AI-first approach is empowered by Waabi World, a “school for self-driving”, which exposes the Waabi Driver to a wide range of roadway scenarios needed to improve its driving skills. This approach negates the need for thousands of kilometers of test miles on real roads, streamlining the research and development program dramatically as well as making it more sustainable and safer. On-road driving is only required during the final step of development for validation and verification.

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Elon Musk’s SpaceX bags $1.5 billion contract for Starship to take humans to Moon

Artist’s rendering of SpaceX Starship human lander design. (Photo: Nasa)

  • SpaceX is developing the Starship and has recently conducted an engine test
  • Nasa had in July 2021 given the first contract to SpaceX
  • The objective of the contract is to develop and demonstrate a Starship lunar lander

By India Today Web Desk: Amid his chaotic management at Twitter, Elon Musk’s SpaceX has bagged another contract valued at $1.5 billion to develop its Starship human landing system to transport humans to the Moon. With Nasa launching the Artemis-1 mission that will return humans to the lunar world, Starship will be part of long-term lunar exploration plans.

SpaceX is developing the Starship and has recently conducted an engine test where it fired all 14 engines. The company is working to conduct the first orbital flight of Starship by either end of this year or the beginning of 2023. As part of the new contract, SpaceX will provide a second crewed landing demonstration mission in 2027 for the Artemis IV mission.

“Returning astronauts to the Moon to learn, live, and work is a bold endeavour. With multiple planned landers, from SpaceX and future partners, we will be better positioned to accomplish the missions of tomorrow: conducting more science on the surface of the Moon than ever before and preparing for crewed missions to Mars,” Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson, said in a statement.

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Surgeons Grow 3D-Printed Nose on Patient’s Arm

And then grafted it onto the patient’s face.

The ENT and Cervico-Facial surgery teams of the Toulouse University Hospital and the Claudius Regaud Institute carried out a surgical intervention at the Toulouse-Oncopole University Cancer Institute consisting in completely reconstructing a patient’s nose from a synthetic graft previously implanted in the patient’s forearm to pre-vascularize it.

The patient had been treated in 2013 for nasal cavity cancer (squamous cell carcinoma) by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. As a result of this treatment, the patient lost a large part of their nose as well as the front part of their palate.

For more than four years, the patient lived without a nose, facing failures in nasal reconstruction by skin flap grafting and difficulty coping with wearing a facial prosthesis.

The patient was thus offered a nasal reconstruction using custom-made biomaterial, based on a surgical procedure carried out in two stages by Prof. Agnès Dupret-Bories and Dr. Benjamin Vairel.

This type of reconstruction had never before been performed on such a fragile and poorly vascularized area and was made possible thanks to the collaboration of the medical teams with the company Cerhum, a Belgian manufacturer of medical devices specializing in bone reconstruction . This new technique also makes it possible to overcome certain limitations presented by other techniques.

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Flexible AI computer chips promise wearable health monitors that protect privacy

A device like this could one day monitor and assess your health.

By Sihong Wang

My colleagues and I have developed a flexible, stretchable electronic device that runs machine-learning algorithms to continuously collect and analyze health data directly on the body. The skinlike sticker, developed in my lab at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, includes a soft, stretchable computing chip that mimics the human brain.

To create this type of device, we turned to electrically conductive polymers that have been used to build semiconductors and transistors. These polymers are made to be stretchable, like a rubber band. Rather than working like a typical computer chip, though, the chip we’re working with, called a neuromorphic computing chip, functions more like a human brain. It’s able to both store and analyze data.

To test the usefulness of the new device, my colleagues and I used it to analyze electrocardiogram data representing the electrical activity of the human heart. We trained the device to classify ECGs into five categories: healthy and four types of abnormal signals. Even in conditions where the device is repeatedly stretched by movements of the wearer’s body, the device could still accurately classify the heartbeats. 

Most of the signals from the human body, such as the electrical activity in the heart recorded by ECG, are typically weak and subtle. Accurately recording these small signals requires direct contact between electronic devices and the human body. This can only be achieved by fabricating electronic devices to be as soft and stretchy as skin. We envision that wearable electronics will play a key role in tracking complex indicators of human health, including body temperature, cardiac activity, levels of oxygen, sugar, metabolites and immune molecules in the blood. 

Analyzing large amounts of continuously acquired health data is challenging, however. A single piece of data must be put into the broader perspective of a patient’s full health history, and that is a big task. Cutting-edge machine-learning algorithms that identify patterns in extremely complex data sets are the most promising route to being able to pick out the most important signals of disease. 

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Techman Robot launches ‘all-in-one’ AI collaborative robot series

Techman Robot has launched its “TM AI Cobot” series, describing it as a “collaborative robot which combines a powerful and precise robot arm with native AI inferencing engine and smart vision system in a complete package”.

BY MAI TAO

The company says the new machine is ready for deployment in factories and can accelerate the transition to Industry 4.0.

Techman says the TM AI Cobot works on the principle of being smart, simple and safe. By combining visual processing in the robot arm, the AI Cobot can perform fast and precise pick and place, AMR, palletizing, welding, semi-conductor and product manufacturing, automated optical inspections (AOI) and food service preparation, among many other applications that can be accelerated by AI-Vision. 

The company claims it is the only intelligent robotic arm series on the market provided with a comprehensive AI software suite. It includes TM AI+ Training Server, TM AI+ AOI Edge, TM Image Manager, and TM 3DVision, allowing companies to train and tailor their system to precisely meet their application.

Shi-chi Ho, Techman Robot president, says: “Techman Robot has redefined the future of industry robotics with the introduction of its AI Cobot series that are equipped with a native AI engine, powerful and precise robotic arm and vision system that represents a perfect combination of ‘brain, hands and eyes’.

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Embark launches coast-to-coast autonomous trucking network

Embark Trucks, a developer of autonomous technology for the trucking industry, has launched its “coast-to-coast backbone of the Embark Coverage Map”, preparing key Sunbelt markets to be served by Embark fleet partners.

BY MARK ALLINSON 

The Coverage Map includes nine transfer point sites in cities across the Sunbelt, including new locations in Dallas, El Paso, Atlanta, and Jacksonville, to accommodate planned autonomous freight volume in key markets and provide anticipated operational support for carriers and shippers using Embark-powered trucks.

Embark secured optimized real estate sites and support services through its partnerships with Alterra Property Group and Ryder. The Coverage Map expansion represents the next step in a journey to deliver coast-to-coast operational availability that began with Embark’s first Los Angeles to Jacksonville run in 2018. 

Embark strategically selected these nine sites to eventually automate crucial shipping lanes for its carrier partners.

The expanded network that Embark is positioned to serve through these nine sites covered 9.5 billion miles of annual freight in 2020, including Dallas to Houston, San Antonio to Houston, and Dallas to Atlanta – some of the highest-volume inter-city lanes in the US.

As a result, by opening these nine sites, 28 percent of US shipping volume in the Sunbelt is available for autonomous transport by Embark’s fleet partners, who will be able to own and operate the trucks and to begin hauling goods autonomously once Embark’s technology is commercialized.

By operating autonomously across the network, Embark’s carrier partners should be able to deliver faster than is currently possible, due to 24/7 operations. 41 percent of US shipment miles in the expanded Coverage Map are on lanes that are longer than drivers can complete in a single shift due to Hours of Service regulations.

Embark anticipates that the 3.3 million loads on these lanes should become eligible for earlier delivery once automated.

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Unmanned, solar-powered US military space plane returns from record 908-day flight

The robot craft – which has now clocked up over 1.3 billion miles in orbit across its six missions – was carrying experiments for the US Air Force, Navy and also NASA.

By IAN RANDALL

United States Space Force: ULA launch X-37B spaceplane.

An unmanned, solar-powered US military space plane returned from its sixth mission on Saturday, having spent a record-breaking 908 days in orbit. Built by Boeing, the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle — which resembles a miniature space shuttle — was developed to test space technologies. It was launched on top of a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida back in May 2020. The craft landed at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the same complex from which the Artemis I Moon rocket will hopefully be blasting off early tomorrow morning.

For the first time, the space plane carried a so-called service module designed to increase the total number of payloads it could carry. This carried scientific experiments for partners including the Naval Research Laboratory and the US Air Force Academy.

To ensure a safe landing, the module was jettisoned from the vehicle before it left orbit. The space plane and the module then returned to Earth separately.

Boeing Space and Launch senior vice president Jim Chilton said: “Since the X-37B’s first launch in 2010, it has shattered records and provided our nation with an unrivalled capability to rapidly test and integrate new space technologies.

“With the service module added, this was the most we’ve ever carried to orbit on the X-37B and we’re proud to have been able to prove out this new and flexible capability for the government and its industry partners.”

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NASA’s quiet supersonic X-59 now has a jet engine

Lockheed Martin’s X-59 aircraft

By Ameya Paleja

The first flight is likely in 2023.

The jet engine for NASA’s ambitious X-59 aircraft that will demonstrate the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) has now been installed, the space agency said in a press release. 

NASA has teamed up with Lockheed Martin and General Electric Aviation to bring this ambitious plan to reality that could one day revive supersonic travel for the general public. While fighter aircraft can routinely fly at speeds much higher than sound speed, commercial airliners flying over populated areas cannot do the same. 
The reason is the sonic boom, the shockwaves created by an object traveling faster than the sound, which has enough energy to shatter windows and sound like thunderclaps to the human ear. The now-defunct Concorde flights faced the same problem two decades ago and could never truly unlock the full potential of supersonic flight. 

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Flywheel energy will help charge rental EVs in New York

Chakratec flywheel-based Kinetic Energy Storage systems for EV charging, grid-balancing

By STEPHEN EDELSTEIN

Zooz Power will use its flywheel technology to charge electric rental cars at New York City’s LaGuardia airport, the Israel-based company formerly known as Chakratec announced earlier this month.

Zooz recently announced a memorandum of understanding with an unnamed car rental company to pilot flywheel energy charging at LaGuardia beginning in the second quarter of 2023.

The partner rental company “is operating thousands of car rental sites in over 100 countries,” Zooz said in a press release, adding that more sites will be considered if the 12-month New York pilot program is successful.

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Flywheel energy will help charge rental EVs in New York”
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