Issue #372

This week - a digital celebrity from China; Sony's racing AI is fast and nice; the UK to build a drone superhighway; radio-controlled fruit flies; and more!

More Than A Human

▶ Hands-On with Mojo Augmented Reality Contact Lens (13:38)

Tested got to check a prototype of Mojo Lens, an in-development contact lens with an embedded augmented reality display and the electronics needed to run it wirelessly.

Artificial Muscles Woven Into Smart Textiles Could Make Clothing Hyperfunctional

Engineers from Australia have developed a new class of fluid-driven smart textiles that can “shape-shift” into 3D structures. What makes their solution stand out from other smart textiles is the speed at which the artificial muscles react and its flexibility.

Artificial Intelligence

A digital human could be your next favorite celebrity—or financial advisor

Baidu has made a digital replica of one of China’s biggest celebrities and soon a similar technology might power digital humans working directly with customers as advisors or as NPCs in games or even being your digital copy in the metaverse.

Sony’s racing AI destroyed its human competitors by being nice (and fast)

Sony's racing AI outpaced human drivers in Gran Turismo on empty tracks but when they put it against real humans on a track with humans last year, it lost. Now they improved their AI by giving it an "etiquette" - an ability to take risks or to play nice depending on the situation. Researchers hope their results will help design AIs that are better at interacting with people, whether it be on the manufacturing floor, in home robots, or in driverless cars.

Meta open sources early-stage AI translation tool that works across 200 languages

Meta has created a single AI model capable of translating across 200 different languages, including many not supported by current commercial tools. The company is open-sourcing the project in the hopes that others will build on its work.


UK set to have world's biggest automated drone superhighway

The UK is set to become home to the world's largest automated drone superhighway within the next two years. The drones will be used on the 164-mile Skyway project connecting towns and cities, including Cambridge and Rugby. It is part of a £273m funding package for the aerospace sector. Other projects include drones delivering mail to the Isles of Scilly and medication across Scotland.

Autonomous vehicles startup Nuro winds down operations in Phoenix

Nuro is leaving Phoenix, Arizona, to focus on  San Francisco Bay Area and Houston. Nuro started operating in Phoenix in 2018 offering autonomous grocery deliveries, first with modified Toyota Prius and then with custom autonomous robots.

Baidu reveals the next-gen robotaxi that will be deployed throughout China

Baidu, the Chinese search engine giant that has plowed money into AI and autonomous vehicle technology, unveiled Wednesday a new all-electric robotaxi that it plans to deploy at scale across China. Baidu said that recent advances in manufacturing have cut production costs, allowing it to eventually build and operate tens of thousands of robotaxis at scale across Chinese megacities including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen by next year.

▶ Collaborative Navigation and Manipulation of a Cable-towed Load by Multiple Quadrupedal Robots (1:05)

Behind this long title is a video showing how a bunch of quadruped robots learned how to together tow a heavy box and spread the load between them. I see a potential use of this tech in five months if you equip robots with antlers.


Scientists Hijack Fruit Fly Brains to Remote Control Their Wings

A team of experts have combined genetic engineering and nanotechnology to modify fruit fly to remote control their wings. Right now the team can only instruct the fly to just spread the wing (it is not a fully radio-controlled flying fly yet). Researchers hope their work will help advance the study of human brain function. It could lead to new treatments for a number of neurological diseases, they say, and even new brain-machine communication devices.

My Dream for Safer CRISPR Tools

Genetic engineer Samira Kiani shares and explains what she wants from gene editing tools - safety and controllability to make the minimum amount of changes to the cell without causing unexpected edits.

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