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Drones, Robocars and Robots A Race To What?

Drones, Robocar Racing | road ahead: roboracing

Robot racing is on the horizon according to a lengthy missive from Bob Koveleski describing this driverless Roborace Car (above) and plans (hopes) for 20 of them to participate in a new Roborace Series. The cars will weigh in at approximately 2,000 lbs and with high performance electric motors powering each wheel will produce speeds up to 180 mph on some tracks. A NVIDIA Drive PX 2 brain will control each of the cars and each race team will construct its own neural network to command its Roborace Car. May the best Steve Jobs win! For more details go here. | road ahead: brain drone race

However, neural-network device racing may soon be supplanted by pure mind racing. Jason Dearen of the Associated Press covered "the world’s first drone race involving a brain-controlled interface" staged by the University of Florida, 16 pilots used their willpower to drive drones through a 10-yard dash. They used EEG headsets calibrated to identify the electrical activity associated with particular thoughts in each wearer’s brain — recording, for example, where neurons fire when the wearer imagines pushing a chair across the floor. Programmers write code to translate these "imaginary motion" signals into commands that computers send to the drones. Sponsored with research funding from Intel Corp., its organizers want to make it "an annual inter-collegiate spectacle, involving ever-more dynamic moves and challenges, and a trophy that puts the brain on a pedestal." May the strongest grey matter win! Watch here.

If the advance of robots have you thinking about one taking over your job, Kailia Colbin offers the perfect palliative in her Online Spin column: "When Watson Comes For Your Job, Give It To Him." The success of a robot"lawyer" and a "teaching assistant" based on the artificial intelligence of IBM’s Watson, prompted her to predict: The robots are coming, and they’re not just gunning for factory workers and truck drivers. They’re after the white collar wrapped snugly around your middle-class neck, and they are much, much better than you." She notes Watson has a success rate of 90% when in diagnosing lung cancer as compared to 50% for medical doctors. So instead of fighting it, she suggests we find ways to shape a society where a job is not so integral to our self-identity.