Issue #349

This week - Sony's AI masters Grand Turismo; why delivery drones failed; a brief history of biohacking; why bigger neural networks do better; and more!

More Than A Human

Paralysed man with severed spine walks thanks to implant

A paralysed man with a severed spinal cord has been able to walk again, thanks to an implant developed by a team of Swiss researchers. It is the first time someone who has had a complete cut to their spinal cord has been able to walk freely.


hackerBCI is a company founded by two engineers that promise to "give you the easiest access to neuroscience projects and experiments, whether you are a researcher or just a curious DIY person". Powered by RaspberryPi or Jetson Nano, hackerBCI aims to make brain-computer interfaces affordable and easy to use and tweak.

Artificial Intelligence

Sony's AI Drives a Race Car Like a Champ

Last week I shared Toyota's drifting self-driving car. Now Sony strikes with GT Sophy - an AI that mastered Gran Turismo. “Sophy is very fast, with lap times better than expected for the best drivers,” said Takuma Miyazono, Gran Turismo world champion. “But watching Sophy, there were certain moves that I only believed were possible afterward.”

Computer Scientists Prove Why Bigger Neural Networks Do Better

Two researchers show that for neural networks to be able to remember better, they need far more parameters than previously thought. They showed that neural networks must be much larger than conventionally expected to avoid certain basic problems.

Lego Robot with an Organic ‘Brain’ Learns to Navigate a Maze

Researchers from Germany have designed a carbon-based neuromorphic computing device, put it into a robot and trained it to navigate a maze. This organic AI did it while consuming much less energy than its silicon counterpart. The neuromorphic chip is also relatively cheap to produce and comparatively simpler than a silicon system, said co-author of the study.


ALIAS equipped Black Hawk helicopter completes first uninhabited flight

We can now add UH-60A Black Hawk military helicopter to the list of vehicles that can operate without a human. DARPA reports that their Aircrew Labor In-Cockpit Automation System (ALIAS) program completed the first-ever flight of a Black Hawk helicopter without anyone onboard.

► Drone Delivery Was Supposed to be the Future. What Went Wrong? (18:39)

Wendover Productions explains why drone delivery never took off like it was promised. The reasons - from legal challenges (like no-fly zones around airports) to challenges of dropping packages safely to economics and what customers want.

Scientists develop insect-sized flying robots with flapping wings

Researchers from the UK have created a small robot with flapping wings that use a new method of electromechanical zipping that does away with the need for conventional motors and gears. This simpler design could pave the way for smaller, lighter and more effective micro flying robots for environmental monitoring, search and rescue, and deployment in hazardous environments.


A Brief History of Biohacking

Josiah Zayner gives a brief history of biohacking, his involvement in it and how biohacking differs from science and academia.

Biohybrid fish made from human cardiac cells swims like the heart beats

Researchers have developed the first fully autonomous biohybrid fish from human stem-cell derived cardiac muscle cells. The artificial fish swims by recreating the muscle contractions of a pumping heart, bringing researchers one step closer to developing a more complex artificial muscular pump and providing a platform to study heart disease like arrhythmia.

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