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Posts Tagged: "Robots"

Tesla continues to rack up patents despite Elon Musk’s supposed distaste for patents

For someone who avoids patents “whenever possible,” Musk and his companies sure do seek patents on a lot of innovations. So why can’t he just be honest about his motivations? Or why doesn’t he come out and explain that innovation demands patents and it just isn’t realistic to invest many millions, or in his case sometimes billions, into research and development if you cannot obtain and exercise exclusive rights? That is, after all, perfectly honest and true. You can’t invest in what you can’t own, and Musk knows that. For some reason he just doesn’t seem all that interested in his fans and shareholders realizing that undeniable truth.

AI-Driven Innovation: Can & Should it Be Regulated?

Historically, legal decisions have dismissed the notion of a machine or autonomous program being the inventor. In fact, as a recent contribution to Lexology states, “Congress has stated that the Patent Act is intended to ‘include anything under the sun that is made by man.’” However, with the increasing use of AI to augment the pace and scope of innovation, questions arise as to who owns the invention and subsequent IP rights in cases where AI is involved… However, as a new and emerging technology, artificial intelligence is a hot topic of discussion and calls for greater oversight and regulation of the technology are growing louder. Going beyond liability and public safety concerns, some pundits suggest that if legislators don’t act quickly, AI could lead to the most dramatic erosion of IP that the modern era has seen thus far.

Trump picks automation supporting fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder for Labor Secretary

Automation technology in the restaurant industry, such as interactive kiosks that replace waiters by taking customer orders, is both a cost-cutting move and an investment in improved customer service, Puzder argues, citing the speed, accuracy and convenience of such technologies… Overall, Puzder doesn’t seem to want to replace his workers with machines so much as he would like to see an end to government regulations that increase labor costs. This echoes an anti-regulatory regime that looks to be shaping up with choices like climate change-critic Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to head up the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Obamacare-critic Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) to serve as the U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services.

Ethical, legal questions arise as scientists work to teach robots to feel pain

One way we use robots is the navigation of dangerous situations, in which robots perform tasks that would put a human worker at high risk of injury or death. A highly radioactive environment is one such example. If robots were able to experience pain, and interpret this type of sensory data as a threat to their physical existence, they would be better able to protect themselves from harm and complete tasks more efficiently. To return to “Star Trek,” Lieutenant Commander Data was able to identify atmospheric and environmental threats to his well-being, even if he was forced to describe them with a machine’s characteristic detachment. Interestingly, there’s also the possibility that pain sensors for robots could in turn protect humans.

Autonomous robots report shows half of use cases are outside of self-driving car sector

To get a better idea of the scope of the autonomous robot market, intellectual property analysis firm Innography recently released a trends report focusing on the autonomous robot technology sector. The report takes an in-depth look at use cases for autonomous technologies, the top companies filing patent applications in the field as well as the countries which are seeing the greatest number of such patent applications being filed… Perhaps one of the more unexpected findings in Innography’s autonomous robot patent report is the fact that China has leapt ahead as the top jurisdiction for receiving patent applications in this sector.

Autonomous Vehicles to Include Self-Driving Shopping Carts?

According to the patent application filed by Walmart, the system will utilize a series of docking stations, sensors, motors and cameras to offer consumers the ability to “hail” a shopping cart using an app on their smartphones, much like they would a taxi or Uber and that upon completion of use, the system will somehow be able to recognize abandoned carts within the store or in the parking lot and will be able to manually return itself to a docking station for use by another consumer.

Canon already with more than 300 patents in 2016, pursues plastics and photoacoustic imaging tech

Our latest survey of patents issued recently to Canon include a couple of imaging technologies related to medical diagnostics, such as is the case with the imaging innovation outlined within U.S. Patent No. 9230319, entitled Method of Reconstructing a Biological Tissue Image, and Method and Apparatus for Acquiring a Biological Tissue Image. It protects a method of reconstructing an image of a sample through the use of multiple measured spectra obtained by measuring respective regions of the sample; the method involves acquiring an image through utilization of an intensity distribution in the regions of at least one peak in each of the measured spectra as well as a classifier. This technique is useful in the examination of biological tissues to determine the presence of cancer.

EsoGlove, developed in Singapore, applies robotics to hand and nerve rehabilitation

Researchers at the National University of Singapore have developed a robotic glove designed to improve patient rehabilitation after injuries or nerve-related conditions that may have affected a person’s full range of motion with his or her hand, such as those suffered by a stroke or from muscular dystrophy. The robotic glove unit, known as the EsoGlove, is mainly made of fabric which is secured to a user’s hand with Velcro straps and a number of soft actuator components. These soft actuators are pressurized by air to distribute forces along the length of a wearer’s finger to encourage natural movements like bending or twisting.

Blizzard response may be aided by salt-infused asphalt, robotic snow plows

Some tech firms are trying to go all-in on AI solutions for snow removal by developing autonomous, self-driving snow plows that could be deployed without human operators. At the end of this January, autonomous plow developers will come together in St. Paul, MN, for the sixth-annual Institute of Navigation Autonomous Snowplow Competition. This year, there will be 11 student teams from the U.S. and Canada attending the event competing to see which of their autonomous snow plows performs best at navigating the competition’s course solely through computer control. Robotic, self-driving snow plows could be implemented for municipal snow removal in the future, although the current state of the tech hasn’t gotten far beyond prototypes that cost $4,000 to $12,000 per unit.

The Top 10 Patents Issued in 2015

2015 was a truly remarkable year for innovation and we saw major trends in self-driving cars, wearable technologies, digital wallets and much more. I hope you will enjoy this top 10 listing, which includes innovations for providing water in arid regions, wireless charging systems for electronic devices and even the collection and retransmission of sunlight. Of course, as with all of these types of lists, the criteria used for inclusion on this list is subjective, based on my own personal preferences. Please feel free to let us know if you saw something particularly noteworthy in 2015.

Disney loses TV subscribers but innovates in amusement rides and robotics

Through most of 2015, the Walt Disney Company had earned a total of 206 U.S. patent grants from all of its subsidiaries, with significant development in the fields of display devices, media content, video streams and 2-D imaging… A pair of patents issued to Disney in recent weeks showcase some intriguing improvements to the user experience for various rides and attractions at amusement parks. U.S. Patent No. 9155971, titled “Selective Illumination of Physical Scenery in Amusement Park Rides,” protects a display system for use with amusement park rides and other attractions. A tool that can help water ride passengers escape without becoming soaked is featured within U.S. Patent No. 9174704, entitled “Interactive Water Shield for Rafts or Boats in Water Rides.” It discloses a passenger boat for interactively shielding passengers.

Automation will cause worker displacement but will also create jobs

Google, now Alphabet Inc., is one of the world’s most valuable companies but employs only a tenth of the number of workers of past giants of industry like AT&T and General Motors did about a half century ago. But we need to point out some obvious problems with the theory that technological innovation is dealing irreparable harm to the American workforce. Simply stated, you cannot ignore the reality that technological innovation is a net creator of jobs, from those who create the innovation, to those who market and sell the innovations, to those who install and maintain the innovations. Focusing only on the low income workers who will be displaced by robotics, for example, creates an inaccurate picture that significantly distorts the workplace realities. Further, it is those innovation based jobs that are the high paying jobs that our economy most wants and which will pay livable wages.

Advances in farming robotics could address shortage in agricultural workers

With American farmers already heavily involved in the regulatory conversation involving the commercial use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, we thought that it would be interesting to delve into the world of farming robotics and see the recent advances in that particular field. It’s important to understand first that the robotics being developed for commercial use on farms won’t be stand-alone humanoid units ranging through fields to pick crops. Any piece of hardware implementing an algorithm which automates some of the manual work of farming falls under this heading.

Microsoft invents cloud-based driver warning systems, hover-based gaming controls

Microsoft is often found soaring high atop the intellectual property world in terms of the patents it’s issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. In 2014, the company was 5th overall in the world for U.S. patent grants with 2,983 patents that year, a 6 percent increase from the previous year’s totals. In the three months leading up to this writing, Microsoft has earned 597 U.S. patents, a slow quarterly pace compared to last year but still one that would likely put the company in the top 10 most innovative organizations this year.

Boston Dynamics develops walking robotic tech with stunning speed and stability

The patent portfolio of Boston Dynamics is small but it does cover some very intriguing innovations in the field. The company holds six patents issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, two of which protect jumping technologies that may contribute to some functioning of the Sand Flea. U.S. Patent No. 8849451, issued under the title Hopping Robot, protects a robot with a chassis, a motive subsystem that maneuvers the chassis, a hopping actuator including a rearwardly extending foot which is attached to the chassis for launching a robot and a separate leg pivotable to pitch the chassis upward at a selected launch trajectory angle. This technology, developed to overcome issues in robotic components suffering damage when the unit lands, is definitely on display in the Sand Flea video, and diagrams attached to the patent grant confirm this.