Posts Tagged "robot"

Self-Driving Buses | Say What?

Dear Kid,

Have you heard about real-life auto-driven buses? Yep. Happening in Switzerland. About to happen, anyway.

The wheels on the bus go round and round... DearKidLoveMom.comLaunching next spring, a small fleet (and by small, I mean 9) of buses will take to the streets in part of the city of Soin. The buses work just like regular buses—minus the driver. Which may seem like a problem to some of us, but the bus people feel it will be just fine.

The public transportation company there is called CarPostal, giving new meaning to “mail it in.” (Yeah, I know it’s really “phone it in” but I couldn’t make that work.) The buses are adorable (although not made out of chocolate—which should cut down on people licking the cushions).

Turns out four U.S. states have granted “autonomous driving permits”. Who knew? I don’t think there are any self-driving cars yet, but the concept is most wonderful.

I’d be delighted to have a happy little computer drive me around. I’m already taking suggestions for what to name it. Thoughts?

Love, Mom


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You Won’t Believe What This Car Does

Dear Kid,

We are all going to have to go back to driving school.

To be clear, there are a lot of people on the road right now who probably should go back to driving school (looking at you, red pickup driver who thinks turn signals are just for decoration).

There is a new car in the universe (thank you universe). A new kind of car.

It’s name is EOscc2 (not as marketable as R2D2, but I’m sure they’ll work on that) and it’s billed as an ultra flexible micro-car for mega-cities.

And as long as you don’t need to take anything bigger than a lunchbox with you, it is perfect.

It’s wheels go every whichaway which means parking is a breeze.

No more three-point turn, this baby just spins around.

With a bunch of robotics and sensors it will help you park (and one day do the driving, parking, and coffee making for you).

And—get this—it changes shape.

Yep. This car goes from 2.5 meters down to 1.5 meters.

I can’t even stand myself that is so cool.

The cars also hook up into a little train which might be interesting for people all going the same way, but I’m not sure I see that part catching on in the US.

No clue when, as, or if it will come to market, but I love how these folks are thinking. You can Car that changes shape.

Love, Mom

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Homecoming, Technology News, and Girl Kickers

Wildcat robot can run a mile in under 4 minutes DearKidLoveMom.comDear Kid,

Happy Saturday, Kiddo.

Last night was the Homecoming football game. Our heroes brought home a resounding victory and Pi went 5 for 5 on PATs. She also got to take 3 kickoffs (a first for her) so that was really exciting. The band played, the court was crowned, and the crowded cheered. The coaches were so pleased that they canceled today’s practice so it was a rare and welcome day for sleeping in.

A Duke University coach was at the game watching Tinashe (who will be playing for them next year) and spent some time talking to Pi. He did not offer her a full scholarship (just in case you were curious). In fact, that might be as close as she ever comes to a football scholarship (or being a Blue Devil).

Hamilton (who we played last night) also has a girl on their football team. We believe she is a kicker although we didn’t see her warm up kicking and she didn’t play. Pi said she really likes playing a team that has a girl as part of the squad. “Most of the teams are like ‘Huh? A girl?’ but they were like ‘Cool. A girl.'” One of the Big Blue even gave her a high five after one of her PATs.

Today is Prep for Homecoming Day. And Get Yard Work Done Before It Rains Day. And possibly even Do Some Housework Day although I wouldn’t really bet on that one. Not sure I’m feeling up to doing battle with the Dust Dragons.

In technology news, a company called Boston Dynamics has invented a robot called WildCat. With a top speed of 16 mph (yup—it can run a mile in under four minutes) it is not the fastest robot on the planet, but it’s much faster than I am (unless there’s a really good sale in sight). It’s surprisingly big and looks like something out of Star Wars when it runs. I have no idea what its Grand Purpose is. Video for your viewing pleasure.

In other technology news, the Curiosity rover is still acting like a tourist, taking photos and sending the images back to earth. Apparently word of the government shutdown hasn’t made it to Mars. Given the state of things in Washington, Mars might be a dandy place to be right about now.

Hope the regatta is going well.

Love, Mom

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Robots and the Future of the World

robot for college homework

I have no comment…

Dear Kid,

It seems the super geeks (settle down, that’s a compliment) at Cornell University have created (are creating? Not entirely sure of timing on this) a robot that can read your mind. (Yes, your mind. If it tried to read my mind, it would probably explode in confusion.)

The short version (here’s the long version) is that the robot watches your behavior and infers what you are going to do next. Then it helps or does it for you.

This is not all that impressive. Booker has been doing it for years. What? Finished with the food on your plate and heading to the kitchen? Something might spill—I’ll come with you.

The scientists say it will do marvy things like anticipate that you want a soda or coffee and fetch a beverage. Oh, joy. Just what we in the US need—something that will allow us to be even lazier than we currently are. Not that I wouldn’t be delighted to have a robot bring me a cool beverage on a hot day. But I’m not sure it’s a good thing for society as a whole. Just sayin’.

I’m also a little worried about the more far reaching effects of robotic mind reading. It’s one thing to ask your robot to do something, “Robot, please dig a trench for planting petunias in front of the house.” But it would be bad if the robot could figure out that you are sufficiently annoyed at the door-to-door salesman to commit murder and proceeds to dig a 6 foot deep grave in the front yard.

And what about a robot that sees you sit down to study and grabs the book so that it can “study” for you? That’s just wrong.

Or the robot that guesses (accurately) what you’re thinking about and tells. There are definitely things we would all prefer to keep locked up in the gray matter.


What do you think the best and worst applications of robotic mind reading will be?

Love, Mom

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