Walking on two legs is one of the hardest ways to travel. Few creatures do it in nature, and when humans have made walking robots, the two-legged ones tend to fall down a lot. What if, instead of carefully calibrated bodies, a walking robot was simply built around a torso that defied gravity?
Speech recognition software isn't perfect, but it is a little closer to human this week, as a Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research team reached a major milestone in speech-to-text development: The system reached a historically low word error rate of 5.9 percent, equal to the accuracy of a professional (human) transcriptionist. The system can discern words as clearly and accurately as two people having a conversation might understand one another.
On October 2nd, in Irbil, Iraq, a drone flown by ISIS killed two Peshmerga, or Kurdish soldiers, and injured two French paratroopers, who were supporting Kurdish force, according to French newspaper Le Monde. The attack is possibly the first where a drone fitted with an improvised explosive device has inflicted casualties on troops from a Western nation.
The RQ-4 Global Hawk is built for watching disasters unfold. The high-altitude, long endurance drone can fly for over 34 hours and reach an altitude of 60,000 feet above ground. Most of these expensive, private-jet-sized drones fly for the Air Force, where they watch battlefields in places like Afghanistan and Iraq, finding targets and coordinating troops below. NASA also flies one, for scientific research, and last night they used it to drop sensors into Hurricane Matthew.
Robocops may be a ways off still, but robot security guards are already here. Security robot company Knightscope has two different guard bots, both of which look like Daleks designed by Tim Cook-era Apple. Slick, bulb-shaped machines, they bristle with cameras, sensors, and lights, and are covered in white plastic. Uber previously tested some Knightscope robots as parking lot guards, like mobile security cameras scanning for people and reading license plates. Now, Knightscope is dreaming bigger, and looking for investors online.
Drones can do many things people can't. They can fly, which is neat, and they can carry chemical sensors, identifying airborne particles with far greater fidelity than human noses. And drones, unlike human workers, don't have children to send to college, taxes to pay, or retirements to plan for--so they're good for cutting costs. At least, that's the pitch General Electric is making to oil companies, with their new leak-sniffing Raven drone.