Last Week in AI #181: AI trash-sorting robot, China's rules on public transport self driving, AI to predict flashovers in fires, and more!
TrashBot automatically sorts trash into appropriate bins, China proposes new rules for self-driving in public transport, AI can predict dangerous flashovers to warn firefighters
Summary: CleanRobotics announced a $4.5 million Series A funding towards producing hundreds of TrashBots, some of which are already installed in high-traffic areas like shopping malls and airports. TrashBots use machine learning and robotic systems to sort waste for landfills, recycling, or compost from a single disposal point. As soon as an item enters a TrashBot, it is passed through a machine learning algorithm that identifies the item by the type of waste and diverts the item to its respective bin. The goal with this smart recycling bin is to complement manual separation of trash, which is susceptible to human error. TrashBot is able to sort trash with roughly 90% accuracy–a significant improvement over manual human-aided separation. CleanRobotics is optimistic about the future of this bin, which will be able to generate high-quality data for waste audits and trigger fullness alerts.
Our Take: The lack of proper segregation of trash into is contributing to ecological and environmental concerns. The current system of managing waste manually is ill-equipped to handle the increasing volume of trash. To help bridge this gap, communities need to adopt smart waste management technologies that increase efficiency, lower collection costs, and divert more trash away from landfills. TrashBots by CleanRobotics are definitely a step in the right direction. However, it still remains unclear how the TrashBots can disassemble/disentangle items before sorting (cap of a bottle vs the bottle itself). Moreover, recycling rules often vary for different neighborhoods depending on the recycling facilities around. It would be important to configure these Trashbots to these rules depending on their deployment location. Despite these corner cases, we wish CleanRobotics the best and look forward to further improvements on this product.
Over the past few years, China has seen significant investment in the development and regulation of autonomous vehicles. This month, the nation's Ministry of Transportation drafted rules regarding the use of self-driving vehicles for public transport. This comes at a time when US states are allowing self-driving companies to test and operate driverless vehicles, while Baidu just recently obtained permits to operate the first fully driverless robotaxi services on open roads in two Chinese cities.
Our take: It's pretty clear there is something of a race going on between the US and China in self-driving. In this particular area, I don't see much of an "arms race" dynamic besides the application of these technologies to systems used for warfare (though I don't see much focus on that right now). I think it's interesting that China is already delving into how self-driving will factor into public transport and am curious to see how Baidu's robotaxi services and similar endeavors develop.
For firefighters, one of the most dangerous situations is a flashover, “a deadly fire phenomenon wherein nearly all combustible items in a room ignite suddenly.” Flashovers are hard to predict, but recent advances in machine learning may be able to help. Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Hong Kong Polytechnic University have developed Flashnet, based on Graph Neural Networks, that can predict flashovers with 92% accuracy a few seconds before they occur. Unlike previous models, FlashNet can make predictions on different kinds of buildings and floor plans, as it was trained on 41k simulated fires in 17 building types. While the model is promising, it still needs to be tested with real-world data instead of just simulations.
Our take: It’s still early to tell how well it will work in the real world, as real fires may not behave the same as simulated fires, which were what the system was trained on. In addition, it seems like for this model to work numerous sensors need to be already placed in the buildings, which would limit its use in older buildings without sophisticated sensors. But even if the model only works on some buildings, it is still an important application and may directly help save lives.
Towards Helpful Robots: Grounding Language in Robotic Affordances - "In “Do As I Can, Not As I Say: Grounding Language in Robotic Affordances”, we present a novel approach, developed in partnership with Everyday Robots, that leverages advanced language model knowledge to enable a physical agent, such as a robot, to follow high-level textual instructions for physically-grounded tasks"
Self-Taught AI Shows Similarities to How the Brain Works - "Self-supervised learning allows a neural network to figure out for itself what matters. The process might be what makes our own brains so successful."
GPT Language Model Spells Out New Proteins - "Human speech and protein structure are close enough for AI purposes"
Open-source rival for OpenAI’s DALL-E runs on your graphics card - "OpenAI’s DALL-E 2 is getting free competition. Behind it is an AI open-source movement and the startup Stability AI. Artificial intelligence that can generate images from text descriptions has been making rapid progress since early 2021."
European Commission allocates over €25.5 million to AI projects - "In seeking ways to enhance the use of AI in the defence sector, the European Commission has selected four AI-related collaborative defence R&D projects under the European Defence Fund (EDF) 2021 Calls for Proposals. The efforts will receive more than €25.57 million ($25 million)."
Meet FauxPilot, An Attempt To Build A Locally Hosted Version of GitHub Copilot - " a team of academics from NYU Tandon’s Computer Science and Engineering department has developed FauxPilot, a local Copilot substitute that does not communicate with Microsoft corporate"
Upping the Standard: NVIDIA Introduces NeuralVDB, Bringing AI and GPU Optimization to Award-Winning OpenVDB - "NVIDIA today announced NeuralVDB, which brings the power of AI to OpenVDB, the industry-standard library for simulating and rendering sparse volumetric data, such as water, fire, smoke and clouds."
Google Scientists Create AI That Can Generate Videos From One Frame - "Google's DeepMind neural network has demonstrated that it can dream up short videos from a single image frame, and it's really cool to see how it works. Transframer is a general-purpose generative framework that can handle many image and video tasks in a probabilistic setting."
NSF and Amazon award $1M for healthcare AI integrity - "The Fairness in AI program from the National Science Foundation and Amazon is meant to address challenges around bias in machine learning and speech recognition tools."
Robotic kidney cancer surgery shows desirable outcomes in study - "Kidney cancer is not always confined to the kidney. In advanced cases, this cancer invades the body's biggest vein, the inferior vena cava (IVC), which carries blood out of the kidneys back to the heart. Via the IVC, cancer may infiltrate the liver and heart."
Using reinforcement learning for control of direct ink writing - "esearchers of the Bickel group at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (ISTA) are employing machine learning in virtual environments to achieve better results in real-world experiments."
AI predicts fall risk for lower limb amputees with 6-minute smartphone test: study - "tech developers have begun introducing products designed to either detect falls and automatically call for help or predict the likelihood that they’ll occur before they happen."
Machine Learning Pinpoints Martian Meteorite Origin - "In a new paper, a team of researchers has presented a machine learning algorithm that was used to determine the Martian crater of origin for a meteorite found on Earth."
AI predicts lung cancer tumor growth after radiation : NHS study - " they built an artificial intelligence model that can predict lung cancer patient’s individual risk of recurrence within two years of radiation therapy."
TikTok now offers a very basic text-to-image AI generator directly in the app - "Text-to-image AI systems are booming in both ability and popularity right now, and what better proof than their appearance in the world’s hottest app: TikTok."
AI Can Help Indigenous People Protect Biodiversity - "The United Nation’s latest biodiversity report warns that one million species are headed for extinction, including 1,000 wild mammal species and 450 species of sharks and rays."
AI Tech Let Deceased Woman Talk to Mourners at Her Funeral - "Holocaust educator Marina Smith passed away in June at the age of 87. However, an AI tool called StoryFile, built by her son’s firm, meant those attending her funeral could watch her respond to their questions about her life, reports The Telegraph."
Meet Xiaomi’s new humanoid robot, CyberOne - "Long gone are the days when a consumer electronics company could simply announce a phone and call it a day. At this morning’s big launch event in Beijing, Xiaomi followed up its foldable news by handing the stage over to CyberOne."
African languages AI picked for Grindstone accelerator - "Billed as Africa’s first conversational AI, Botlhale AI is among the 25 high-growth start-ups that were hand-picked for a year-long programme by Grindstone, a Cape Town-based accelerator."
Tesla Bulks Up Its GPU-Powered AI Super – Is Dojo Next? - "Tesla has revealed that its biggest in-house AI supercomputer – which we wrote about last year – now has a total of 7,360 A100 GPUs, a nearly 28 percent uplift from its previous total of 5,760 GPUs."
LSU professor creates AI-based startup focused on space exploration - "LSU physics professor Jeffery Chancellor has launched Atlantis Industries, a startup that uses artificial intelligence to help design and build satellites and other items for space exploration"
EvaBot Raises $10.83 Million in Funding - "EvaBot, a San Francisco, CA-based emotionally intelligent relationship solution that helps companies build and accelerate customer and employee relationships, raised $10.83m in funding."
Lyft Launches Autonomous Electric ‘Robotaxis’ in Las Vegas - "If you’re planning to visit Las Vegas soon, you might be able to hitch a ride to the Strip in a fully electric autonomous vehicle. Lyft has announced that its partnership with Motional, a self-driving vehicle company, is expanding to include electric midsize crossovers."
AI Video Editor Startup Peech Raises $8.3M - "AI-powered video editing technology developer Peech has closed an $8.3 million seed funding round led by Ibex Investors."
Watch Russian robotic dog allegedly capable of launching rockets - "Fears of robotic-killer machines have surfaced since Ghost Robotics unveiled a machine-gun-wielding robotic dog last year."
Artificial intelligence was supposed to transform health care. It hasn’t. - "Machine learning could improve medicine by analyzing data to improve diagnoses and target cures, but technological, bureaucratic, and regulatory obstacles have slowed progress. Investors see health care’s future as inextricably linked with artificial intelligence."
The AI Art Apocalypse - "This image was created by an AI, MidJourney. All I had to do was type in a prompt (“wildfire”) and aspect ratio. This AI is pretty good, but nowhere near the state of the art, and AI like it are, over the next few years, going to make art like this available within seconds at a cost of pennies."
What's holding machine learning back in healthcare? - "This form of AI has made progress in diagnosis and medical coding. An expert discusses why it has yet to plow further."
Fears of AI sentience are a distraction - "That is, expecting AI to have the emotions, desires, insecurities and dreams of human beings is a red herring."
AI Illustrator Still Looking for Work: The Shortcomings of DALL-E 2 - "The big question is whether further research in AI will produce programs that truly understand concepts, and use that understanding to guide their production of art, text, or what have you. "
AI for Ukraine is a new educational project from AI HOUSE to support the Ukrainian tech community - "Supporting the AI community in Ukraine will contribute to the development of the economy, increasing the value of local talent"
NIST releases expanded AI Risk Management Framework draft - "The National Institute of Standards and Technology released an expanded second draft of its Artificial Intelligence Risk Management Framework with more details on developing trustworthy and responsible AI systems, said a spokesperson Friday."
AI Art Generator Used to Make Bullet Hell Video Game - "Shoon is a recently released side scrolling shmup that is fairly unremarkable, except for one quirk: it’s made entirely with art created by Midjourney, an AI system that generates images from text prompts written by users. It is not a good video game by any means."
HBO Max host John Oliver is weirdly popular on SF-based AI image app Midjourney - "John Oliver's HBO Max show "Last Week Tonight" is known for its hard-hitting investigative journalism, but the show often ends on a lighter note. After a brutal main segment on Afghanistan, this week's episode concludes with a ten-minute exploration of AI imaging software."
These AI-generated Overwatch fusions are beautiful and terrifying - "I've gone back and forth on AI art being cool and scary, but I can't deny that these Overwatch hero fusion renders (opens in new tab) I saw on Reddit last week are pretty sweet."
Coping with Copilot - "CS educators: AI-based developer tools are gunning for your assignments. Resistance is futile GitHub’s AI-based Copilot tool went public this summer. It’s an amazing tool for software developers. But students armed with it will be bringing Uzis to a knife fight."
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