Test flights for full-blown version underway, but details are few
From Fast Company:
Texas-based Bell Helicopter is debuting the cabin of the self-piloting air taxi it plans to supply to Uber for robotic flights sometime in the 2020s.[Their] yet-to-be-named air taxi will not be a helicopter in the traditional sense. Like a chopper, it will offer vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL), but for most of its airtime, this taxi will fly like a traditional plane with wings. How exactly that works is still a mystery. Only the well-appointed cabin is on display in Las Vegas (at CES 2018).
“Bell knows how to do the flying parts,” says the company’s director of innovation, Scott Drennan. “Normally you’d see a vehicle mockup and then you’d add custom cabins and so forth. On this one, we’re showing the custom cabins first, so we can draw new customers.” Bell is highlighting the promised comforts of short-range flight with a cabin capable of seating four or five people.
Editor’s note: Bell MTS is not affiliated with Bell Helicopter.
Hotel robot helpers learn new skills on the job
From The Verge:
Directly adjacent to the Las Vegas Convention Center is a Renaissance hotel with a pair of special staff members: robots. Savioke’s Relay robots have been on the job for three months, helping out the concierge by delivering items to guests during peak hours.
The two robots, named “Elvis” and “Priscilla” by the hotel, pick up orders from the front desk, call and ride the elevators without help, and call the guest’s room phone when they’ve arrived. They navigate autonomously, based on a pre-generated map, so there’s no problem if they lose Wi-Fi or LTE signal. I got to watch a delivery in action (to a demo room), and it was a seamless experience.
After three years of putting robots in hotels, Savioke is well beyond the pilot stage, and ready to expand Relay’s functionality beyond delivery tasks. This year, the robots will gain the ability to patrol a hotel and look for zones with poor Wi-Fi quality and report it directly to IT, which will help with one of the most frequent complaints from guests.
Knock knock! There’s an autonomous fruit cart at the door
Shopping for fresh produce online has always been a bit of a gamble, since you’re not actually selecting the fruits and veggies yourself. Santa Clara, California–based startup Robomart aims to change that by bringing online produce shopping to your front door.
The company, as part of NVIDIA’s deep learning/AI “Inception Program,” has developed what is essentially a self-driving bodega on wheels. The concept relies on a Sprinter-van-size delivery vehicle outfitted with an array of LiDAR, radar and cameras, as well as a CAN motion-control system and enough route-planning and obstacle-avoidance software to notch Level 5 autonomy — the highest level a self-driving vehicle can achieve, requiring no human driver whatsoever.
What’s more, the vehicles use a fully electric drivetrain with an estimated 80-mile range and a top speed of 25 mph and come equipped with the HEVO wireless charging system.
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