Watch a Boston Dynamics four-legged robot pull Santa in her sleigh

"Happy holidays from Boston Dynamics!"

Well, Boston Dynamics is at it again. The Google-owned robot maker today posted a YouTube video of its technology for the first time in nearly a year, and this time it’s more silly than scary.

“Happy holidays from Boston Dynamics,” a woman in a Santa suit says, as she’s sitting in a sleigh with wheels at the bottom and getting pulled by a four-legged robot wearing antlers that looks a lot like Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot. Two other antler-wearing robots are in also walking in a line in front of the sleigh-pulling robot.

Just watch the video:

And when you’re done, watch a Boston Dynamics two-legged robot wander around in the woods.

This is all impressive and maybe a little bit fear-inducing, but please keep in mind that many robots still have a lot to learn.

Hat tip to Gizmodo for posting the video.

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Startups vie for Nvidia’s $100,000 prize

Last year's winner, Artomatix, uses GPU technology to automate digital visual effects.

This sponsored post is produced in association with Nvidia.


With $100,000 prize up for grabs, the third Early Stage Challenge, part of NVIDIA’s Emerging Companies Summit, is set to help entrepreneurs disrupt their industries.

On April 6, 2016, in Silicon Valley, one dozen entrepreneurs leveraging GPUs to create groundbreaking tech will go through a Shark Tank-like challenge designed to showcase their next big thing in front of an audience of industry leaders.

The top challenger will be awarded a $100,000 check, plus exposure in front of an audience full of leaders that can launch companies far, and fast.

The 8th Emerging Companies Summit is a highlight of the annual GPU Technology Conference, which drew more than 4,500 attendees from 40-plus countries last year — a crowd of thought leaders and tech innovators, NVIDIA says, who “get it” when entrepreneurs talk about the powerful potential of GPUs.

Last year’s winner, Artomatix, has already won key endorsements from some of the gaming and visual effects industry’s biggest names.

“I told my team we’re here to get exposure on a much grander scale than ever before because these are really the leaders in our industry,” Artomatix CTO Eric Risser says.

Artomatix harnesses GPUs to power a deep learning system that helps automate the creation of digital visual effects based on just a few key examples — helping artists move far faster than ever before.

The company has gone on to release a beta product at TechCrunch Disrupt in September, and has been working with an iconic AAA game franchise for about a year now, Risser says. Not only are other studios now trialing its offering as a beta product, Artomatix is also in “advanced discussions” about integrating its product with the offerings of other companies that build tools for game developers.

“We’ve got NVIDIA saying ‘you’re the next big thing,’ which is really just unbelievable validation for us,” Risser says.

MapD, another $100,000 Early Stage Challenge winner, has already won early backing from Google Ventures and Vanedge Capital in Vancouver. Their tech innovation has caused a sensation in the GPU community: With the application of GPU computing capabilities to big data problems in the business world, analysts can now turn huge datasets into stunning visual intelligence.

Early customers include a major social media company, a telecommunications giant, a government research lab, and a major retailer.

Got what it takes? NVIDIA is looking for startups that have raised no more than $1 million in capital and use GPUs for AI, visualization, robotics, automotive technology, entertainment, cloud, or mobile computing.

The application deadline is coming up fast — they’re due by January 12, 2016. Interested companies can apply here.


The Emerging Companies Summit will take place at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference, on April 6, 2016, in Silicon Valley.


Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company that is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of news stories produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way. For more information, contact [email protected].










These Robots Wish You A Holly, Jolly Period Of Cold Weather Between The End Of December And The Beginning Of January

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 1.17.57 PM The robots at RE^2 robotics are tricksy devils. In this video a pair of robot manipulators carefully cut out a snowflake-shaped piece of paper with a pair of regular scissors – a feat that, if truly assessed in the context of future technology, should give us pause. Sure this robot is wishing us a happy winter solstice with its jolly decoration but what happens when these arms become… Read More

A Proposed California Law Would Require Drivers For Driverless Cars

self driving car In what is sure to be seen by some as government interference and general misunderstanding of technology, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has released a proposal that would require drivers to be present in self-driving vehicles in the state. That limits any possibility for parents to send their kids off alone, any delivery services hoping to utilize autonomous vehicles without… Read More

The State Of Robotics For 2015

STATE OF ROBOTICS FINAL.001 While faulty hoverboards are setting themselves ablaze to celebrate Christmas, robots are gradually moving from labs to news reports to entering our daily lives. First in line are drones, already in many people’s hands, autonomous cars with early deployments such as Tesla’s autopilot, and desktop robots like 3d printers. In 2015 robot popped up in many forms, shapes and industries. Read More

Artificial intelligence startup Osaro raises $3.3M

The TRAC Labs robot participates in the DARPA Robotics Challenge in Pomona, California, on June 6.

Osaro, an early-stage artificial intelligence startup, is announcing today a new seed round totaling $3.3 million. The startup is boasting a few high-profile investors: Peter Thiel, Scott Banister, and AME Cloud Ventures.

In the small world of AI startups, an approach called deep learning is currently in vogue. The method involves training neural nets on large quantities of data, such as photos, and then getting them to make inferences on new data. Osaro blends deep learning with reinforcement learning, a technique that generally entails teaching machines through trial and error. The startup’s technology “allows human mentors to teach machines how to autonomously take actions to achieve high-level goals,” according to a statement.

Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other companies have acquired AI startups in recent years.


From VentureBeat
Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

Some startups that remain independently owned, like ClarifaiMetaMind, and Nervana, have taken on considerable amounts of funding from respected investors. But there are signs that the market for general-purpose AI technology might be smaller than the current AI excitement would suggest. Recently, Ersatz Labs let go of most of its employees.

Some startups have come out with a focus on specific industries, such as security, health care, and financial services. Osaro says it’s interested in robotics, but the technology can be applied to other areas.

One point of distinction for Osaro: its software is proprietary, and patent pending at that — even as there are many open-source deep learning frameworks available today.

Researchers at both Facebook and Google have pursued deep reinforcement learning. DeepMind, now owned by Google, famously taught a machine to play Atari using the method.

Osaro started earlier this year and is based in San Francisco. Cofounder and chief executive Itamar Arel is principal investigator of the Machine Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Previously Arel was chief technology officer at startup Binatix.










Artificial intelligence startup Osaro raises $3.3M

The TRAC Labs robot participates in the DARPA Robotics Challenge in Pomona, California, on June 6.

Osaro, an early-stage artificial intelligence startup, is announcing today a new seed round totaling $3.3 million. The startup is boasting a few high-profile investors: Peter Thiel, Scott Banister, and AME Cloud Ventures.

In the small world of AI startups, an approach called deep learning is currently in vogue. The method involves training neural nets on large quantities of data, such as photos, and then getting them to make inferences on new data. Osaro blends deep learning with reinforcement learning, a technique that generally entails teaching machines through trial and error. The startup’s technology “allows human mentors to teach machines how to autonomously take actions to achieve high-level goals,” according to a statement.

Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other companies have acquired AI startups in recent years.


From VentureBeat
Customers don’t just get irritated when you screw up cross-channel personalization. They jump ship. Find out how to save your bacon on this free research-based webinar with Insight’s Andrew Jones.

Some startups that remain independently owned, like ClarifaiMetaMind, and Nervana, have taken on considerable amounts of funding from respected investors. But there are signs that the market for general-purpose AI technology might be smaller than the current AI excitement would suggest. Recently, Ersatz Labs let go of most of its employees.

Some startups have come out with a focus on specific industries, such as security, health care, and financial services. Osaro says it’s interested in robotics, but the technology can be applied to other areas.

One point of distinction for Osaro: its software is proprietary, and patent pending at that — even as there are many open-source deep learning frameworks available today.

Researchers at both Facebook and Google have pursued deep reinforcement learning. DeepMind, now owned by Google, famously taught a machine to play Atari using the method.

Osaro started earlier this year and is based in San Francisco. Cofounder and chief executive Itamar Arel is principal investigator of the Machine Intelligence Laboratory at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Previously Arel was chief technology officer at startup Binatix.










Robotics tipping point: What business leaders and entrepreneurs need to know NOW (webinar)

robots

We’re talking real life robotics with experts from Qualcomm and Silicon Valley Robotics. Watch on demand now for free!


Silicon Valley is at the center of the perfect storm of robotics.

It’s at the center of the talent, the investment and the research, the center of the software and hardware industries — all key ecosystem components to build the robotics companies that need to rise to serve the world’s future.

But the event horizon to make that happen is something that needs to be considered in terms of decades, not the typical start-up timelines of a few months to a few years, according to Andra Keay. Keay is managing director of Silicon Valley Robotics, and one of the panelists in this upcoming webinar that will be shedding light on what businesses need to know now to take advantage of the evolution that’s reaching a tipping point.

“Robotics moves slowly but it’s been around a long time,” she says. “The industry has done a great job over the last 50 years of helping us to envision what uses we could make of robots and what that could mean to the quality of our life and our economy. Yet, few of those promises have yet been met.”

The problem, according to Keay is that our expectation of robotics has been inflated.

“We did it wrong. We’ve created this situation where we look at robots as humanoid,” Keay says. “There’s no way that robots have anything like the capability of a person. It’s just absolutely impossible in this century for a robot to replace a human in anything.”

That’s not to say that robotics technology isn’t already very much a part of our lives, or that now isn’t the right time for the industry to become more established and scale.

“Five years ago in the industry we said, OK, the time is right,” Keay says. “It’s clear that robotics is at a point where it’s time to move into new areas. Out of industry, out of research labs, into the service industry and into the home.”

Robotics technologies are well engrained in certain industries, like automotive. It’s just that, for the average person, it doesn’t feel like something that’s particularly close to home. For this reason, it’s easy for people to dismiss robotics as science fiction because it seems so far away and the tipping point moments so elusive.

Understanding what that future may actually look like comes back to understanding the technological and economic drivers that are making robotics peek right now.


Don’t miss out!  Learn more about Andra Keay’s vision for the future of robotics by tuning-in for the webinar “How robotics will change everything, including your business.”

Watch on demand now!


“In many cases it will be taking this ubiquitous connectivity that mobility computing delivers and making a gradual transition to products that are just that much more powerful and versatile,” Keay says. “It’s not going to be a disruption, but once in a while one of those devices will change in how we use it and that will lead to other changes. I think that, with time, robotics will account for the same kind of seismic shift that the internet and computers had in the 20th century.”

One popular belief is that the growth of robotic technology will inevitably equate to the loss of human jobs. But Keay says there is good reason to believe that the opposite will be true.

“Everywhere I look there are industries that have increased the number of robots that they employ. They’ve also increased the number of people that they employ,” she says. “An exciting vision of the future is that of the skilled mobile tradesperson. They’ll still drive a pickup or an SUV but instead of a leaf blower, or a power tool, they’re working with smarter tools that are used in applications to take care of robots.”

Keay sees a correlation between this future of robot builders and technicians and the opportunity to create small, regional pockets of highly-specialized, entrepreneurial manufacturers and service providers of a variety of stripes to support niche industrial and commercial requirements for robotic technology. “Robots increase the number of jobs that are needed and they also increase the productivity of a company that allow it to expand and create even more jobs,” she says. “That will create opportunities for a new class of entrepreneurs.”

Ultimately, the future of robotic technology means creating machines that augment, not replace, humans and socializing the idea that people can work with robots in an integrated fashion.

“Some of those fences are starting to come down as computing power and intelligent algorithms lead us to a better understanding of how people can work alongside robots,” Keay says. “To make a significant impact on our economy, we need to build a lot of robots because there are not that many out there today.”

“People need to build them and people need to maintain them and the only way we can do that is to create opportunities for the industry to grow in Silicon Valley and elsewhere.”

What you’ll learn:

  • The key consumer and commercial applications of robots and drones
  • The role robots will play in societies and economies
  • How smartphone technologies will pave the way to robotics’ future
  • How cognitive technologies will transform our lives and business
  • The foundation of many IoT applications in shaping the way to robotics

Speakers:

Jim McGregor, Principal Analyst, Tirias Research
Andra Keay, Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics
Anthony Lewis, Senior Director of Technology, Qualcomm
Maged Zaki, Director of Technical Marketing, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc.


This webinar is sponsored by Qualcomm.