The Koenigsegg Regera features the world's first fully robotized sports car body. We call it Autoskin. Each component can be operated individually, revealing the Regera's engine bay, luggage compartment and interior. There's also a button on the remote for 'Show Mode', which you can see here. Autoskin is a super-light, practical feature that adds less than 5kg to the Regera's weight.
This is a new feature available only on the new Koenigsegg Regera and another industry first for a serial production car. It's our new robotized control system, called Autoskin, which can open and close all of the doors on the vehicle from the remote control. What you see here is "Show Mode", which opens/closes all openings at the same time. They call also be controlled individually.
In a video posted to their Facebook yesterday, Koenigsegg Automotive AB showed off their “fully robotized sports car body.”
As the world's largest car manufacturer, Toyota knows a thing or two about getting people from point A to point B. But how do you make this process easier? The answer: artificial intelligence. On November 6 Toyota announced that it's establishing a new company, the Toyota Research Institute (TRI), to develop AI technologies in two main areas: autonomous cars and robot helpers for around the home. The company plans to pump $1 billion into TRI over the next five years, and will be establishing headquarters for the company near Stanford University in California, with a secondary facility near MIT in Massachusetts.
Toyota originally announced academic partnerships with these universities last month along with $50 million in funding, but this new financing brings the company's ambitions to another level. Leading TRI as its executive technical advisor and CEO will be Dr. Gill Pratt, the man behind DARPA's Robotics Challenge. In a press release, Pratt said the company's initial goals are to decrease the likelihood of car accidents, make driving accessible to everyone "regardless of ability," and bring extra mobility to the home — "particularly for the support of seniors."
As these first comments suggest, Toyota's vision for self-driving cars differs somewhat from Google and Uber's. Rather than chasing fully autonomous vehicles that chauffeur passengers, Toyota has always stressed the importance of keeping human agency in driving while introducing computer systems that make cars safer. "Our long-term goal is to make a car that is never responsible for a crash," Pratt told IEEE Spectrum last month. "A car that is never responsible for a crash, regardless of the skill of the driver, will allow older people to be able to drive, and help prevent the one and a half million deaths that occur as a result of cars every single year around the world."
Dovetailing with this ambition is the goal of indoor mobility for seniors. Japan's rapidly aging population is a crisis in the making (the number of over-65s is expected to go from 25 percent to 40 percent in the next 30 years), and there are similar problems facing America (over-65s will be around 20 percent of the US population by 2030). Toyota has been developing robotic helpers for an aging population for years, including the Human Support Robot or HSR (which features an articulated torso and arm and video calling functionality), and prototype bots for assisted walking and moving people from the bed to the toilet. These may seem in a different world to self-driving cars, but both products rely on similar realms of AI research, including computer vision and machine learning. Conceptually, Toyota also sees a connection.
"If you think about the use of robotics within the home, it is the same as the use of vehicles when we travel on the road, except that instead of moving goods and people outdoors, you move them indoors," Pratt told IEEE Spectrum. "A lot of the same technology can be brought to bear. Toyota is also convinced that there should be a strong relationship between people and the machines that are helping them to move."
Don't expect any commercial products from TRI any time soon though. At the moment, Toyota says the company's primary mission is to "accelerate R&D in a range of fields" and help "bridge the gap between fundamental research and product development." The company has previously stated that its current ambition is to get semi-autonomous cars on the road by 2020, although some have wondered whether the Japanese firm's cautious attitude will let its Silicon Valley rivals pull ahead.
Full text of the article by James Vincent in The Verge.
It doesn't look that far removed from R2D2 in "Star Wars" -- a small, autonomous robot that wheels down a sidewalk at about 4 mph. The Starship robot has been developed by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis to be the cost-efficient grocery delivery service of the future.
Set to be piloted in several countries including the U.S. and the U.K. in 2016, the robots are meant "to fundamentally improve local delivery of goods and groceries, making it almost free," according to a Starship press release.
The company expects to launch fleets of the small robots that can deliver up to 20 pounds of groceries for $1.50 in under a half-hour. Customers select a delivery time that's convenient for them, and they are able to track the robot's progress through a mobile app. Once the Starship robot shows up, the app user is the only person who can unlock the machine's cargo and get the groceries.
The robot uses navigation software with obstacle avoidance, which allows it to drive autonomously without causing havoc on the sidewalk, but a human operator can intervene remotely to guarantee a safe delivery.
"Our vision revolves around three zeroes -- zero cost, zero waiting time, and zero environmental impact," Ahti Heinla, Starship Technologies CEO, said in the release. "We want to do to local deliveries what Skype did to telecommunications."
Heinla added that the robots "are not drones" -- instead of conspicuously flying through the air, they are earthbound, designed to blend in safely with pedestrians. They are also environmentally friendly by being carbon emission-free.
The main goal of the robot is to simplify the delivery process. Retailers ship the grocery items to a central hub where the robot fleet takes over, completing the delivery to the customer, avoiding expensive door-to-door travel costs.
"With ecommerce continuing to grow, consumers expect to have more convenient options for delivery -- but at a cost that suits them," Heinla said. "The last few miles often amounts to the majority of that total delivery cost. Our robots are purposefully designed using the technologies made affordable by mobile phones and tablets -- it's fit for purpose and allows for the cost savings to be passed on to the customer."
Full text of the article by Brian Mastroianni in CBS News.