Brain Corp raises $114 million to develop self-driving technology for robots

Brain Corp, an artificial intelligence company specializing in the development of self-driving technology for robots, has raised $114 million in a Series C funding round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund.

Brain has developed AI and self-driving technology to enable robots to perceive their environment, learn to control their motion, and navigate using visual cues and landmarks while avoiding people and obstacles.

The investment will be used to further develop AI technology and create brains for multiple types of commercial and consumer robots.  Continue reading Brain Corp raises $114 million to develop self-driving technology for robots

Sugar’s ‘tipping point’ link to Alzheimer’s disease revealed

sugar cubes

For the first time a “tipping point” molecular link between the blood sugar glucose and Alzheimer’s disease has been established by scientists, who have shown that excess glucose damages a vital enzyme involved with inflammation response to the early stages of Alzheimer’s.

Abnormally high blood sugar levels, or hyperglycaemia, is well-known as a characteristic of diabetes and obesity, but its link to Alzheimer’s disease is less familiar.

Diabetes patients have an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease compared to healthy individuals. In Alzheimer’s disease abnormal proteins aggregate to form plaques and tangles in the brain which progressively damage the brain and lead to severe cognitive decline. Continue reading Sugar’s ‘tipping point’ link to Alzheimer’s disease revealed

Chinese robot maker CloudMinds creates robots based on cloud intelligence

cloud-computing

Company backed by SoftBank says it has switched from artificial intelligence to cloud intelligence

A Chinese company called CloudMinds says it has created what it says is a “cloud intelligence ecosystem” for robotics. 

CloudMinds specialises in the research, development and manufacturing of cloud intelligence-based applications.

It has several investors, including SoftBank Group, the Japanese multinational telecommunications and Internet firm.  Continue reading Chinese robot maker CloudMinds creates robots based on cloud intelligence

Brains trust: The impact of robotics on neurosurgery

In this exclusive article, Stuart Campbell, clinical sales development manager of the neurological products division at Renishaw, discusses key trends on the use of robotics in neurosurgery

The curious case of Phineas Gage is one of the earliest and most well known cases of serious brain injury. On September 13th, 1848, Gage was working as a railway foreman in Vermont when an explosion caused a three foot long iron rod to be propelled straight through his skull.

At the time, doctors thought it impossible to survive such an injury and his remarkable survival and reported personality changes affected the study of neuroscience forever. In recent years, a new technology is changing the face of neuroscience – robotics, which offers high precision access to a complex and sensitive region.

Industrial environments are rife with automation and robotic systems. The upwards trend is only increasing, with the International Federation of Robotics predicting that by 2018, 1.3 million industrial robots will be entering service in factories across the globe.  Continue reading Brains trust: The impact of robotics on neurosurgery

Computer model of how bees view the world could be a breakthrough for robotics

sheffield uni Bee vision

Scientists at the University of Sheffield have created a computer model of how bees avoid hitting walls – which could lead to a breakthrough in the development of autonomous robots. 

Researchers from the Department of Computer Science built their computer model to look at how bees use vision to detect the movement of the world around them and avoid crashes.

Bees control their flight using the speed of motion – or optic flow – of the visual world around them, but it is not known how they do this. The only neural circuits so far found in the insect brain can tell the direction of motion, not the speed.

This study suggests how motion-direction detecting circuits could be wired together to also detect motion-speed, which is crucial for controlling bees’ flight.

“Honeybees are excellent navigators and explorers, using vision extensively in these tasks, despite having a brain of only one million neurons,” says Dr Alex Cope, lead researcher on the paper.  Continue reading Computer model of how bees view the world could be a breakthrough for robotics

Human Brain Project gives public access to web-based simulation platforms

human brain project

HBP opens up all of its computing platforms to the wider research community as it looks to accelerate progress 

The Human Brain Project has released all six of its computing platforms to the wider research community and the general public in an attempt to accelerate progress.

People who are interested can now request access to any or all of the platforms, most of which are suitable for collaboration and accessible through the worldwide web.

The six platforms have the following titles: Neuroinformatics; Brain Simulation; High Performance Analytics and Computing; Medical Informatics; Neuromorphic Computing; and NeuroRobotics.  Continue reading Human Brain Project gives public access to web-based simulation platforms

Billion dollar brain: Exclusive interview with Professor Alois Knoll

Professor Alois Knoll
Professor Alois Knoll, chair of real-time systems and robotics, stands between two tendon driven robots developed as part of the EU project Eccerobot at the Technical University in Munich, Germany. Knoll coordinates the neuro-robotics division of the EU Human Brain Project. Photo: Frank Leonhardt

Professor Alois Knoll, co-ordinator of the European Clearing House for Open Robotics Development (Echord), and one of the key scientists involved in the $1.5 billion-dollar Human Brain Project, speaks exclusively to Robotics and Automation News

It’s not every day you learn a new word you like. From my point of view, having been in journalism longer than I’d like to recall, it’s an interesting experience to be reminded of an extract from a biography of Dr Samuel Johnson, “father of the English dictionary”, written by James Boswell in 1791, which I read in my teens.

Nothing specific from what I read applies here, but I’ll paraphrase a quote from Johnson which I think may be most appropriate. “A writer only begins an article. A reader finishes it.”  Continue reading Billion dollar brain: Exclusive interview with Professor Alois Knoll

Cloud robotics: Talking cloud and saying nothing

Cloud robotics are enabling robots to access large amounts of computing power that their bodies do not have the physical space to accommodate. Hundreds if not tens of thousands of servers are potentially at the service of small robots which can be in remote locations well away from the nearest supercomputer or data centre, only being connected by, for example, Wi-Fi or Ethernet.

This allows robots to call on powerful, cloud-based applications, such as speech recognition and language, when they are interacting with their users.

At the moment, most cloud robotics systems are linked to specific robots. So, for example, SoftBank’s Pepper robot is linked to the cloud robotics artificial intelligence system developed by Cocoro, another SoftBank company.

Pepper has about 25 onboard sensors to collect a wide range of information – sight, sound, touch and movement. That covers three of the five senses that human beings generally use, the two missing are taste and smell.

Pepper can be connected to the internet through Wi-Fi or Ethernet, both of which are incorporated into the robot. Continue reading Cloud robotics: Talking cloud and saying nothing