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Thread: Why the world wants Robots, google robotics companies

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    Why the world wants Robots, google robotics companies

    With google snapping up robotics companies, Amazon wanting to deliver by drone and governments backing new robot advances, Here we look at why there is sudden interest in this field

    Demis Hassabis
    is not a household name. He's a 37-year-old neuroscientist and former games designer who co-authored the smash hit title Theme Park, and he is also something of a genius. What else would you call someone who took his A-levels at the age of 15, graduated with a double first in computer science at Cambridge and was playing chess before most children had stopped watching Play School?
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    Today, we would also call him a multimillionaire entrepreneur. For, in 2012, Hassabis had set up a company called Deep Mind Technologies with two other like-minded people called Shane Legg and Mustafa Suleiman. Developing computers that think like humans, it went on to employ some 50 people. But in January, the trio sold the company to Google and netted a share of £242 million.
    Not only was this the largest European acquisition Google has ever made, it also reinforces the view that the search engine giant is about to enter robotics in a big way. The vast majority of Google's purchases in December and January have related to robotics and AI, and the sums involved have been considerable. Now that it has Deep Mind, it can take its research to an even higher level.

    When Google made its first move into robotics with the acquisition of Schaft.inc on 2nd December 2013, it went largely unreported, the following day it bought the computer vision company Industrial Perception and again, it seemed to pass people by. But then, on December 4, it snapped up Redwood Robotics, which makes robotic arms. And then it bought Meka Robotics. On December 6, the robotic wheels company Holomni interested the firm. And the day after it bought robotic camera firm Bot & Dolly. Six robotic companies in six days and still Google wasn't finished. On 10th December it acquired robotics company Boston Dynamics.
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    These acquisitions have outlined Google's plans for the future. For a company that was left behind in the race for social media as Facebook and Twitter forged rapidly ahead, Google is making. Sure it will be cutting edge when it comes to robotics. The purchases have been rather canny, with each of the acquired companies bringing a specific set of skills to the table. What's more, Google now has some of the best brains in the field working on AI and robotics, and its talent is salivating at the future potential.

    DeepMind Technologies' strength is that it can work across divisions. Its artificial intelligence will be perfect for the aim of creating robots that can think for themselves, but it will also be useful for Google's search facilities. There is no denying the ambition of the directors: one of them has predicted AI machines would learn "basic vision, basic sound processing, basic movement control and basic language abilities" by 2020. But DeepMind is just one ingredient of a larger cake, and Google wants every slice of robotics' future.
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    Robotic Race
    Why is Google so keen to enter the field of robotics? It seems to be diversifying more than ever and taking punts in directions that other companies either don't want to go or can't afford. It wants to dominate wearable technology. Hence the invention of Google Glass, and it wants to power cars, even having them drive themselves. It wants to put internet broadcasting balloons into high altitude and it wants to solve health problems. Human-like robots form part of its future ambition.

    Google's purchase of robotic companies certainly shows its willingness to get the cheque book out. Andy Rubin, the man who built Android into the major force that it is today, is looking after the robotic project and he has not been shy about splashing the cash. He calls the move into robotics a "moonshot" pointing to inventors and engineers being encouraged to collaborate on audacious ideas even if they may not come off. But it's a calculated risk. Google now has a lot of the ingredients it needs to dominate the field. Boston Dynamics, for instance, makes robots that resemble and act like humans, and it serves the armed forces well. Google also has the talent to produce software and hardware that put Google in the realms of science-fiction. By buying up ever more talent it can marry up the expertise it already has for language, speech, translation and visual processing.

    According to Reuven Cohen, a contributor to Forbes, Google's robotic and AI acquisitions will combine with other divisions to make greater sense of the volumes of data that it wants to process. "They might very well be attempting to predict the future based on the search/web surfing habits of the millions who visit the company's products and services every day," he writes. "They know what we want, before we do."

    If this was the only purpose for these kinds of acquisitions, though, why buy Boston Dynamics? It makes, as we've seen, huge robots for the US military; and although Google is looking to make greater strides in AI and predictive search, this makes it clear that it also wants to produce a new generation of robots. Rubin resigned from the Android division last March for a reason: to work on a secret project to create a new generation of robots. Google is looking towards manufacturing, trying to simplify physical processes such as electronics assembly and maybe even compete with Amazon. Rubin says Google is building hardware, software and systems so that a single team can understand the whole stack. He also says that much of the technology needed for humanoid machines is already in place.

    That is likely to daunt its rivals in this space, some of whom would dearly love to make inroads into AI and robotics themselves. Not only is Google snapping up robotic and AI companies left, right and center, it's also denying others the pleasure. Google had to act fast with its latest purchase, for instance, since Facebook was also in the race to buy the London-based company an intriguing move in itself.
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    You can, however, see why Google wanted to deny Facebook the privilege. DeepMind makes use of deep learning, which allows computers to learn how to solve tasks without ever having been taught the rules. Computer algorithms are taught to spot patterns that are meaningful by exposing them to lots of data either structured or unstructured in the same way that the human brain makes sense of the world without being instructed on every aspect of life. DeepMind showed this at work within software that could play a videogame without ever being told how to play. It figured out the rules through error and bad performances.

    Robots in the future would undoubtedly benefit from such a 'brain', and search engines would be able to make sense of the unstructured mass of data that forms the internet and so compile better results. Facebook would most likely have wanted to use DeepMind's talent pool to help it to make more sense of its database, making predictions about the desires of users before the users themselves have even thought about them. But now it can't. It's a victory for Google in more ways than one.

    The Possibilities

    Google is also keen to head off the threat from Amazon, which as you may have seen in the news, is interested in robotics too. Amazon has been working on a concept in its next generation R&D lab called Prime Air, creating a drone - or unmanned aerial vehicle - which it intends to use to deliver packages to customers within 30 minutes. It caused a major stir when the prototype was unveiled, even though it will be at least 2015 before it can become reality. Much is dependent on whether it can get through Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations, but it was certainly a headline-grabbing statement of intent.

    Understanding that Amazon appears serious about pushing ahead with its plan, Google doesn't want to get caught out. It understands the advances robotics is making and it has long been intrigued by the possibilities. It's for this reason that it has acquired companies that deal with both AI and robotics and why we see some of these results in products such as Google Now, which can already anticipate the desires of Android users.



    Google is also aware of growing outside demand for robotics even among rivals. Apple has invested billions of dollars in factory robots to help produce iPads, iPhones and other gadgets as it seeks to return manufacturing to the UK. It also bought Prime Sense, an Israeli company that develops new artificial intelligence innovations and was part of the design team for the Microsoft Kinect 3D depth sensors.

    Only a few weeks ago, Owen Paterson the secretary of state for the environment, food and rural affairs, backed plans for robots to patrol farms across the UK, which he says will bring benefits and efficiencies. The military, keen to reduce casualties on its own side, has long pushed for greater use of robots and drones. The Wall Street Journal pointed out the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's sponsorship of a robotics competition with a $2 million prize with one trial showing a 330lb humanoid robot extending disaster recovery capabilities into areas where humans cannot operate safely. There is a Chrysler Group plant, it adds, and that can produce vehicle bodies using as many as 1,000 robots. Telepresence robots provide an alternative to travel and centralized workplaces.

    Robots will be lucrative for companies that can further technology in this field and give them a level of intelligence that will enable them to understand when problems arise. By fixing problems themselves and seeking more efficient ways of working, robots will be able to adapt to their environment and become far more productive. We can expect to see domestic robots giving assistance to the elderly or robots working as receptionists. But that's at a lower level. We could have robots looking after entire manufacturing lines, even making other robots themselves when they feel the need arises.

    It will, in short, make many people a lot of money and it could change the world. It could also put people out of work, as technology has been prone to do in the past, but there is talk of robotics and AI enabling us to better understand human behavior and to save lives. Over the next few years, we expect to see ever more advances in this area by new and established companies, some of which will sell to larger firms and others that will want to stand alone. But you can bet many of us will find aspects of robotics incredibly useful and that is why we watch with interest.


  2. #2
    Here are three Top Robots

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    R2D2 A robot with everything, this Star Wars favorite was a resourceful little soul, although understanding him was rather difficult.
    WALL-E Standing for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth class, it's easy to see the likes of WALL-E roaming the planet in the future maybe.
    Johnny Five Always needing more input, Johnny Five displayed decent AI and was able to sift through unstructured data. But he rolled on tracks today's guys are walking!

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    The US military has recently developed a combat suit named Talos, which in theory is supposed to provide its soldiers with superhuman abilities. It is also being called the Iron-Man Suit after the popular Marvel superhero. Like Iron-Man, Talos possesses an on-board computer that responds to external conditions.


    The suitís current features include a brightness measurement function and is bulletproof, with the armour being made of liquid that hardens in a matter of miliseconds when a voltage or magnetic field is applied.


    There are currently three prototypes of the Talos suit being developed by no fewer than 56 companies, 13 universities and ten laboratories, with testing scheduled for June on-wards.

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    World want its as a weapons.

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    In short people are just too damn lazy!

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    Our decade is more focusing in new technology

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