Big Tech &
Netflix Launches a Free Section with No Subscription Required (2 minute read)
Netflix has launched a free section that includes popular titles such as Stranger Things, The Two Popes, and Grace and Frankie. An account is not required to view the content. The feature is available for web browsers and Android devices, but iOS devices are not supported. A full list of the free content is available in the article.
Amazon's Prime Air can officially begin drone delivery trials in the US (2 minute read)
Amazon has officially become an air carrier, with the Federal Aviation Administration granting Amazon Prime Air approval to begin its first commercial delivery trials in the US. The FAA still needs to define regulations beyond the trial phase, so it may still be a few years before a full commercial drone delivery service is available. Amazon has not revealed when or where it will begin its trials. It will be using its hexagon-shaped next-gen hybrid drones for the project.
Japanese convenience store chain begins testing remote-controlled robot staff in Tokyo (2 minute read)
Japanese convenience stores have been facing a labor crisis for years due to rapid expansion and demanding conditions. These companies have turned to technology for help, employing self-payment systems and robots. The Model-T is a robot that is remotely controlled via a VR set on an Augmented Workforce Platform. A video is available in the article showing a person piloting a Model-T. Using this technology, a single worker could perform work at several locations throughout the day while the in-house staff focuses on customers. Family Mart plans to have Model-Ts in up to 20 locations by 2022. The Japanese government aims to have most labor converted to robot avatars by 2050.
Japan's 'flying car' gets off ground with a person aboard (3 minute read)
SkyDrive Inc has successfully carried out a test flight of its flying car with a person on board. The vehicle, which looks like a slick motorcycle with propellers, flew several feet off the ground and hovered around for four minutes. SkyDrive hopes to have a real-life product by 2023. At the moment, the vehicle can only fly for up to 10 minutes. Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) vehicles have the potential to offer quick point-to-point personal travel but there are still many challenges to overcome such as battery sizes, air traffic control, and other infrastructure issues. Pictures of the vehicle are available in the article.
Programming, Design & Data Science
OpenBot (GitHub Repo)
OpenBot leverages a smartphone's sensing and computation capabilities to create a low-cost robot. The project includes a design for a small electric vehicle that serves as a robot body. OpenBot supports advanced robotics workloads such as person following and real-time autonomous navigation. It is for Android smartphones only.
Opacus (GitHub Repo)
Opacus enables training PyTorch models with differential privacy. It was designed for machine learning practitioners who are new to training models with differential privacy and for differential privacy scientists who want to experiment and tinker with the library. Opacus supports training with minimal code changes and allows the client to track their privacy budget expended at any moment.
Tesla Video Shows Gigafactory Shanghai Automation Nearing 'Alien Dreadnought' Phase (3 minute read)
Tesla has shared a 49-second long time-lapse video from Gigafactory Shanghai. It is linked in the article. Elon Musk had wanted to produce a factory that functioned as a product and looked alien. By version 3, the 'alien dreadnought' will be completely automated, with people only present to maintain the machines, upgrade them, and deal with anomalies. At the end of the last quarter, Tesla had an annual production capacity of 200,000 vehicles at Gigafactory Shanghai.
Ikea turned a virtual influencer into a physical installation (1 minute read)
Over the weekend, the Ikea at Harajuku in Tokyo hosted an installation starring Imma, a virtual influencer. People who passed by the first floor of the store were able to see Imma in a virtual living space. There is a growing trend of virtual influencers on social media. Imma is run by a talent agency for virtual humans and it is active on Instagram and TikTok.