Robots attacking humans has been one of the major pillars of science fiction for the past hundred years, and while current robotic technology would never win against mankind, there are those that fear the rise of AI will be the downfall of humanity. But while robots may not be rising up against us anytime soon, their blind dumbness and lack of awareness can be fatal to humans who cross paths with a poorly designed robotic system. Recently, a robot playing chess against a 7-year-old was left confused after the child moved a piece unexpectedly resulting in the robot grabbing and breaking the finger of the child. What challenges do robotic systems present, why did the robot break the child’s finger, and why do robotic systems need to integrate awareness of their surroundings?
Top Stories Of The Week
Hardware Business News
US Senate Passes CHIPS Act To Boost Home-grown Semiconductors
The COVID pandemic of 2020 sent shockwaves throughout the engineering community with the collapse of supply chains, reduction of semiconductor supplies, and long lead times on application-critical parts. However, the world has also come to the horrifying truth that semiconductors are just as important as water, food, and oil, but that the most important semiconductors are made in just a handful of locations in the Southeast Asia area. Recognising the need for bringing semiconductor manufacturing onto home turf, the US Senate has finally passed their CHIPS act that will see tax credits and funding for companies that manufacture semiconductors in the US. What exactly will the CHIPS act provide, why is it important for the semiconductor industry, and what challenges does it present?
Medical Microinstruments Raises $75 Million To Develop Robotic Microsurgery Technologies
While robotic surgical systems are still in their infancy, they present the medical field with numerous opportunities and advantages compared to human surgeons. For example, long complex surgical procedures will not see a robotic surgeon succumb to tiredness or stress, and a robotic system can maintain the same degree of dexterity and stability from the initial incision to the last staple. Recognising the advantages of robotic systems, Medical Microinstruments (who have developed numerous technologies surrounding robotic surgical systems) have recently raised $75 million in funding to continue the development of robotic systems aimed at improving clinical outcomes for patients undergoing microsurgery. What challenges do robotic systems face, what is microsurgery, and how will the funding help to develop new technologies?
Tesla To Boost Spending On Texas And Berlin Manufacturing Sites
Tesla is well known for its range of electric vehicles and associated self-driving technologies, but recently it has been facing media attention after suffering from numerous issues relating to its manufacturing sites (being described as a money furnace). In light of production challenges as Tesla integrates new storage technologies, it recently announced in an SEC filing that it would be increasing its expenditure on the Texas and Berlin plants by $5bn and $7bn respectively. What production challenges have Tesla faced, what will the new spending plan aim to do, and could this be the start of the end for Tesla as an automotive company?
Redwood Materials Announces Plans To Build $3.5Bn Plant In Nevada
Thanks to the many advances in lithium-ion battery technologies, electric vehicles are finally seeing practical ranges on a full charge, and the inclusion of more charging points make it easier than ever to own and operate an EV. When combined with the rising cost of oil and the energy efficiency of EVs, the market demand for electric systems continues to increase. Recognising the advantages of EVs and the increasing price of their key components, Redwood Materials has recently announced its plans to construct a $3.5bn site in the Nevada desert that will be focused on producing materials such as lithium. What challenges do battery manufacturers face, who is Redwood Materials, and why is the Nevada desert an ideal location for such a plant?
Oura Smart Ring Manufacturer Raises $100M In Light Of COVID Pandemic
The best defence against a new virus (such as COVID-19) is to prevent its transmission in the first place. Trying to identify if someone is infected with a virus can be challenging if symptoms are barely noticeable for the first few weeks while the individual remains contagious. However, the use of AI technologies to detect minute changes and recognise behavioural patterns has been demonstrated to work effectively against new viruses, and Oura recognised this early on during the first stages of the COVID pandemic with their smart rings. In light of the COVID pandemic and the ability of Oura rings to help prevent transmission (through accurate identification), Oura has managed to secure $100m in funding to advance their wearable technologies. What challenges do wearables present, what does the Oura ring do, and how can it be used for future pandemics?
Hardware Engineering News
SafeAI And Obayashi Demonstrate An Autonomous Construction Vehicle At Site
Autonomous vehicles present numerous advantages whether it’s the inability to get tired, to become intoxicated, or the ability to react to changing environments far quicker than any human. While autonomous vehicles are often associated with self-driving cars, their applications span across all industries including warehouses, construction sites, and remote sites. To demonstrate the power of AI in construction vehicles, SafeAI and Obayashi recently demonstrated an autonomous platform retrofitted to a Caterpillar 725 to over 50 delegates from various construction companies. What challenges do autonomous systems face, what technologies does SafeAI produce, and how could it transform the construction industry?
Why IoT Devices Need To Develop Different Security Approaches
With IoT devices numbering in the billions, it comes as no surprise that they are some of the most attacked devices by cybercriminals. While an IoT device on its’ own is not much of a threat, having access to thousands of identical devices across the world can present hackers with new opportunities whether it is spying, launching DDoS attacks, or utilising ransomware across a network. However, as IoT devices are fundamentally different in their design to modern computing platforms, integrating existing security solutions presents numerous challenges. In this article published by checkpoint.com, learn about the challenges that IoT security faces, and why IoT devices need a different approach when integrating security.
Hardware R&D News
CMU Researchers Teach Robots By Example
One of the biggest challenges faced by researchers when integrating AI into robotic systems is training. While AI can be used to help keep a robot standing upright, describing basic tasks such as opening doors and carrying bags can be complex due to the vast number of variables involved. Recognising these challenges, researchers from CMU have recently developed a teaching platform that learns by example instead of describing movements and objectives. As such, the robots are shown what to do by humans, and the robots will attempt to copy the actions (even from just one showing). What challenges do robots face when being trained, how did the researchers achieve this milestone, and how could such robots help with household jobs?
Researchers Create Wearable Device Able To Record Biodata Without Battery
One of the biggest challenges faced with wearable devices is the need for a power source. While many electronic components can be made flexible, batteries are still based on ridged technologies meaning that they can be uncomfortable to wear. However, researchers from the University of California have recently developed a wearable device that is able to read biodata and wirelessly communicate with a mobile device without needing a battery. What challenges do battery technologies face in the wearable industry, what did the researchers develop, and how viable are such devices?
Open-Source Hardware News
Original Apple 1 Computer Prototype Up For Auction
The Apple 1 was the computer that started a revolution in the computing industry leading to the development of the Apple 2, the Apple Lisa, and eventually the Apple Macintosh. While less than 100 Apple 1 computers exist today, there is only one prototype of that machine, and it is now about to go on auction. While the machine is in a bad state, it has been said to be repairable to some degree with various chips missing and visible cracks on the PCB. Considering that Apple 1 machines can go for hundreds of thousands of dollars, it is expected that this machine will bring at least half a million. Who designed the Apple 1, what is the current bid, and why is this machine so important to computing history?