The kitchen robot is just one of the new projects housed in NVIDIA’s new Seattle lab (Photo from NVIDIA)
NVIDIA now has a new lab in Seattle that will serve as home for all its robotics projects. Research scientists and students from the University of Washington will work in the lab under NVIDIA’s senior director of robotics research Dieter Fox. He describes the lab as bringing together “a collaborative, interdisciplinary team of experts in robot control and perception, computer vision, human-robot interaction and deep learning."
Aside from promoting collaboration, another goal for the lab is to produce the next-generation of robots that can work with humans in open-ended environments. For example, the lab’s main project is a kitchen helper machine, which is powered by NVIDIA’s Jetson Platform and Titan GPUs and it works in an actual kitchen. Rather than relying on a map to adapt to its surroundings, it uses deep learning to detect and track specific objects based on its own simulation. This is just an example of what NVIDIA hopes to achieve with their newly opened lab.
Another company making great strides is Open Bionics. Open Bionics, the startup company that created a 3D-printed lightweight, cheap bionic limbs for amputees, has successfully raised $5.9 million from investors. Those who backed the series A round include F1’s Williams Advanced Engineering Group, Foresight Williams Technology EIS Fund, Ananda Impact Ventures and Downing Ventures.
With funding secured, the company hopes they’ll be able to deliver bionic hands to those who need them in the United States later this year. Open Bionics managed to reach a price point which makes their multi-grip bionic hand the only advanced device that’s affordable enough to be covered by national healthcare systems in the UK, US, France and Germany.
Back in May, the company launched private sales of its “Hero Arms,” their bestselling multi-grip bionic hand in the UK.
NVIDIA and Open Bionics aren’t the only ones who want to help people. Recently a robot helped police in Novato, California end a six-hour stand-off with a 40-year-old man who threatened to set a convenience store on fire. After a dispute with over gas payment, the man grabbed a gas can from his pickup truck and poured it all over the store. He then, unsuccessfully, tried to set the store on fire. When that didn’t work, he fled to a Safeway in his truck.
At this point, police caught up with the suspect and proceeded to evacuate the area when they saw what they thought was a rifle or shotgun in his truck. They sent in a robot to negotiate with the suspect and eventually get him to come out. So what did he ask for? Initially, he wanted a cigarette, which was denied. The robot sent a vape pen to the suspect instead. He was finally arrested without injury and “charged…with attempted arson and vandalism.”
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