Tag Archives: AI

How army of drones and robots could make Leeds the world’s first self-repairing city

Leeds could become the first ‘self-repairing city’ in the world by 2035 as robotics engineers work on developing drones that can prevent potholes.

Chris Burn reports. Leeds, 2035. Moments after scanning a city road and identifying a crack in the surface around the size of a 50p piece on a night-time patrol, a drone navigates itself down to the site of the problem, lands and fills in the defect using a 3D asphalt printer. What could have eventually developed into a serious pothole is fixed instantly and the drone flies off to search for its next assignment.

Professor Rob Richardson, from The School of Mechanical Engineering, at University of Leeds, along with his team are pioneering the use of robotic drone technology to repair potholes in the future as part of a Government-funded project called ‘Self Repairing Cities’.

It is a scenario that, despite the increasing prominence of drones in daily life, still sounds like science-fiction. But for the past three years, a team of robotics engineers at the University of Leeds’s School of Mechanical Engineering have been making considerable progress on turning the concept into a reality as they work on a multi-million pound, Government-supported project to turn potholes into a thing of the past.

Like almost every city and town in the country, Leeds has a considerable pothole problem – with over 10,000 reported to the council by members of the public between 2014 and 2017. But the city could soon be leading the way globally in dealing with the problem, as well as deploying drones to repair street lights and sending hybrid robots to live in utility pipes which they continually inspect, monitor and repair when necessary. It is all part of a wider scientific ambition called ‘Self-Repairing Cities’ that has the ambitious aim of ensuring there is no disruption from streetworks in UK cities by 2050.

The vision for the project states: “With the aid of Leeds City Council, we want to make Leeds the first city in the world that is fully maintained autonomously by 2035.” Professor Rob Richardson, operational director for the robotics element of the project, says despite the major changes potentially on the horizon, it should not mean drones constantly buzzing over everyone’s heads. “We see them as being like urban foxes,” he explains. “There are not going to be drones over your head constantly. You might see them in particular times of day in particular places but you won’t see them all the time. It wouldn’t be invasive.” The drones could be in operation in Leeds by 2035.

The five-year project, officially called ‘Balancing the Impact of City Infrastructure Engineering on Natural Systems Using Robots’, started back in January 2016 after £4.2m of funding was secured from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It was one of seven ‘Engineering Grand Challenges’ awarded money by the agency to provide innovative solutions to issues such as tackling air pollution.

The Leeds scheme is also being supported by researchers from the universities Birmingham, Southampton and University College London, with project partners including Leeds Council, Balfour Beatty, the National Grid and Yorkshire Water. One of the main achievements of the projects to date has been combined work by the UCL and Leeds teams on developing 3D asphalt printing technology – which Richardson describes as a “world-first” – that can be used by the drones.

Work is now taking place on developing a scanning and decision-making system for such drones. Richardson says there are other possibilities for identifying small cracks in the road surface, such as through self-driving cars, buses and bin lorries that would have scanners attached to them as they went about their normal operations in ‘smart cities’ that use electronically-collected data to manage resources such as traffic lights effectively. The system would also allow for temporary road closures if necessary when drones are working on repairs. The investment of public money is dwarfed by the amounts currently spent on dealing with potholes alone.

In last October’s Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond assigned an extra £420m to local councils for tackling potholes on top of an existing fund of £300m, while the annual cost of resurfacing roads in the UK is estimated to be more than £1bn. Richardson says the potential benefits go beyond immediate financial implications. “Right now, if you have got a bad pothole, you need people, big vehicles and disruption through closing the road and causing pollution to get rid of it,” he explains. “We want to change that and repair things before they become potholes.” Richardson adds the current costs for repairing potholes are difficult to estimate. “You can look at the cost of a person and the hours they work to do it. But the real cost is if there are not prompt repairs, roads gets further damaged.

If you have to close roads for long periods of time, congestion and pollution builds up. There are wider costs far more than a worker’s hourly rate. Our vision is by 2035 to have this kind of technology in a city, with potentially Leeds being the first one. Our grand vision is by 2050 that the whole of the UK will have self-repairing cities. At the end of the five years we want to show what can be done.” How Leeds could become world’s first city to use drones to prevent potholes While such changes may make life better for drivers and council budgets, there would obviously be an impact on employment as technology may make many jobs redundant.

The hope is for a “win-win situation” where better jobs are created, taxpayers’ money is used more efficiently and our air, water and wildlife are protected – but a mid-term report examining the progress of the project to date has suggested it may not be quite so simple. “In the past, every industrial revolution has seen existing jobs become obsolete, labour being replaced with machines, and yet new tasks have emerged that acted as a counterbalance to the displacement of workers,” it says. “Similar to the past, the robotics and AI revolution is set to displace a large proportion of the current workforce. But the concern this time is that if robots/AI can learn most of the new tasks, the creation of new jobs may not be a sufficient counterbalance for the loss of obsolete ones.

With uncertainty writ large over this revolution, it will be the responsibility of the state to safeguard the interest of all members of society and make sure that those who stand to lose the most from impending disruptions do not fall through the cracks.” The major disruption at Gatwick airport around Christmas in which drone sightings grounded about 1,000 flights raised public concerns about the use of the technology.

Leeds and Southampton universities have already been working with the cities of Bradford and Southampton to identify potential challenges and risks and find a safe way of overcoming them. Drones have been used to provide real-time information to firefighters in Bradford to give early warning of structural problems and identify hotspots and people in need of help at incidents.

Richardson says: “Smart cities currently check data and understand people flow. That doesn’t do proactive systems. But we are talking about cities that are able to understand what is happening and be able to react and do things. “All of this stuff is overseen by people, they are systems based on a framework set and regulated by humans. As with all technology, regulations are there for a reason. If it is done correctly, it brings good.” Project achievements growing Achievements of the project so far include creating technology to 3D print asphalt which is tougher than ordinary asphalt and demonstrating that a printer can be attached to a drone, flown to a damage location and operated. Other developments include an inspection robot that can operate autonomously in a one-inch pipe,

with wireless power transfer for charging and the simulation of how cheap ‘disposable’ robots can efficiently locate potholes or other defects in roads. A spokesman said: “The findings will be used to develop the next generation of robots for infrastructure inspection and repair, but with applications in any field that might benefit from the introduction of robotics and autonomous systems.”

Source: Yorkshire Evening Post

 

How 5G could be monetised for telecom companies

Monetise 5G

A new short report from Matrixx has highlighted the new services telecommunications companies will be able to offer once 5G arrives.

With 5G set to commence its commercial rollout in limited form this year, there have been plenty of predictions concerning the benefits it will bring. Digital commerce platform company Matrixx has provided its own unique perspective on the matter in a report entitled ‘5 Key Opportunities in 5G’.

The report runs through five areas where 5G will present new or enhanced opportunities to the telecommunications companies that Matrixx counts as clients. Those are network slicingsmall cell as a service, smart family, Internet of Things (IoT), and enhanced broadband.

Slicing and small cells

Matrixx’s report then runs through some of the ways telcos will be able to monetise these 5G markets. For example, it mentions how network slicing – the ability to segment parts of a network – will be able to be offered as a service by telecoms companies, offering businesses the ability to run their own virtual networks.

In terms of small cells as a service, the report suggests allowing users to take advantage of small cell networks in, for example, shopping centres or sports venues, for high-bandwidth needs, such as virtual reality. Networks could make money by managing this infrastructure and related services for venues.

Smart family, IoT and enhanced broadband

Under the smart family banner, the Matrixx report points out that telecoms companies will be able to provide a one stop shop service that brings multiple connected home services under one umbrella: VR gaming, home security, remote meter monitoring and more. Having them all handled by one company could appeal to users, and also allow networks to expand their reach (and income potential) beyond just mobile.

For the IoT, the report talks about networks using it as a platform or service, which can be monetised through managed service delivery. With the IoT likely to provide services to millions of users in the near future, that could lead to extensive income potential for networks.

Finally, the report also refers to fresh 5G broadband services, described as ‘broadband+’. These could include ‘bandwidth and service’ or ‘bandwidth and applications’ combinations, such as offering music or video services along with a customer’s broadband. On the business side, 5G broadband could offer pooled bandwidth as part of a network slice, which the user can then define and utilize however they want.

“The days of ‘leading with the network’ are over as 5G, combined with capabilities such as VR, AI and ML, will have a profound impact on the digital user experience,” concludes the Matrixx report. “The complexities, variabilities and scale of that ‘Digital Service Provider’ offering require a fundamental shift and will be the defining approach of this era.”

So in other words 5G will open up many new usage cases and with them many new ways to monetise mobile data. That’s good news not just for networks but also for users, as it incentivises mobile networks to build a strong 5G service. It just requires the networks to seize the opportunities presented to them.

Source: Jon Mundy and James Rogerson- 5g.co.uk

London AI Startups Raised More Cash in 8 Months of 2018 Than All of 2017

Vodafone to launch MediaCityUK hub to foster 5G innovation

 

Media City

Vodafone is launching a new Innovation Hub at The Landing (shown above) in MediaCityUK, Salford.

The Landing already offers workspace for companies and has developed a reputation for fostering high-tech and digital businesses. Vodafone’s new hub will give entrepreneurs and start-ups access to the latest tech resources, such as 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), high-speed fibre and more.

Gigabit cities

Vodafone says it is opening the Innovation Hub as part of its commitment to Greater Manchester as one of the UK’s seven ‘gigabit cities’.

Last year, Vodafone struck a deal along with wholesale fibre network infrastructure provider City Fibre to deliver superfast Gigabit broadband to 12 cities in the UK by 2025, benefiting up to five million UK homes and businesses. Under the agreement, Vodafone has a period of exclusive rights to market ultra-fast broadband services on City Fibre’s fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP).

The seven cities announced so far are:  Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Glasgow, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

Vodafone says it plans to roll out Innovation Hubs in other cities too.

Paul Dennett, City Mayor of Salford, called MediaCityUK “an emerging smart city”. He said Vodafone’s input would set Salford up as an example of what new networks and interconnectivity can deliver for a city and its citizens. He highlighted potential in areas including transport, energy and health.

Related: What is Gigabit LTE?

A living lab

The Innovation Hub will offer the opportunity for entrepreneurs to develop, test and commercialise their products.

Jon Corner, Chief Digital Officer for City of Salford and CEO at The Landing, said the Innovation Hub will turn the venue into a ‘living lab’. He said it will help to demonstrate that 5G is about more than just new handsets and faster speeds, noting that it will also have an impact on how networks are organised, and the way we share data and consume content.

Further, Corner said, 5G will enable businesses – such as the ones based at The Landing – to use immersive technologies and artificial intelligence (AI) to create completely new applications that change the way we interact on a day-to-day basis.

Anne Sheehan, Enterprise Director at Vodafone UK, commented: “I am delighted that Vodafone, in collaboration with the Mayor of Greater Manchester and MediaCityUK, will open the Digital Innovation Hub located in the heart of this connected city. The hub at The Landing will give UK businesses, start-ups and tech innovators access to 5G, IoT, high-speed fibre and our best technical resources and we plan to roll out these innovation hubs throughout UK cities.”

Source: Sarah Wray-5g.co.uk

 

Data-gathering cars to hit London streets ahead of autonomous trials

 

Five A1

UK company FiveAI has been given the go-ahead to deploy data-gathering cars on London’s streets to pave the way for a potential driverless car service.

FiveAI plans to spend the next 10 months deploying five cars (with drivers on board) in Bromley and Croydon to collect data on roads, including layout, topology and traffic flow, as well as road user behaviour. The data collected will be processed in line with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and used to feed into the development of FiveAI’s planned services.

FiveAI notes that all its data collection vehicles will be clearly branded and feature an “obvious array” of sensors to ensure transparency.

Towards trials

The shared service the company is working on will target commuters who drive at least part of their journey. FiveAI hopes to run a supervised trial of autonomous vehicles in London in 2019.

FiveAI co-founder Ben Peters says that autonomous vehicles will be much safer than human-driven cars and the data-gathering exercise is a crucial stage towards getting them onto the roads.

He commented: “By supporting London’s transport objectives with a shared driverless car service, FiveAI can play a crucial role in reducing congestion, emissions, incidents and the cost and time of journeys to benefit all Londoners.”

5G and autonomous vehicles

Some say that autonomous cars will only be a reality when we have 5G. Elsewhere, alongside data-gathering initiatives such as FiveAI’s, trials are ongoing to ensure that 5G connectivity will be in place to support driverless cars in the future.

For example, at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford, as part of the AutoAir project, led by Airspan Networks, advanced 5G test networks are being deployed to validate connected and autonomous vehicle (CAV) technologies. The researchers are focused on areas such as complicated cell-tower hand-offs and issues related to bandwidth. They are also looking at how the work they are doing on 5G connectivity could be transferred to road and rail systems.

Meanwhile, government mapping agency, Ordnance Survey (OS), is leading an initiative to help better understand the infrastructure needed to support a nationwide network of CAVs. The E-CAVE project will run for four years and will focus on the geospatial aspects of how CAVs exchange safety-related messages between themselves and the supporting environment.

OS is also working with the 5G Innovation Centre and the Met Office on a digital twinning tool to help determine the best places to put radio antennae to underpin a 5G network.

Source: Sarah Wray www.5g.co.uk

Guadalajara’s bike-share scheme is transformed by artificial intelligence

Stage Intelligence and BKT will work together in merging bike-sharing schemes with AI technology, demonstrating Mexico’s dedication to becoming more sustainable…

Guadalajara’s bike-share scheme is transformed by Artificial Intelligence

Stage Intelligence, a provider of bike-share scheme management solutions, has been selected by BKT bicipública, a Central American bike-share operator, to deploy its BICO bike-share management platform.

BKT operates the bike-share scheme in Guadalajara and will use the artificial intelligence (AI) based platform to offer citizens an optimised rider experience with the aim to expand their scheme.

This is the first time AI will be used in a bike-share scheme in Mexico and BICO will enable BKT to rapidly and efficiently distribute cycles across the city and ensure that riders have bikes and docks available when and where they need them.

“BKT and Stage Intelligence have a shared vision for simple, efficient and user-centric transportation. Together, we are bringing innovation to Guadalajara’s bike-share scheme and using AI to give riders the best possible bike-share experience,” said Tom Nutley, Head of Operations at Stage Intelligence. “AI makes it simple to provide services that create life-long riders. This is a great opportunity for Guadalajara to innovate in clean and sustainable transportation.”

The Guadalajara bike-share scheme is the second largest in Mexico, serving an estimated population of over 5 million people.

“BICO has allowed us to take better advantage of our resources to improve our service and we are focusing on achieving user satisfaction. BICO is an essential part to provide a better service,” said Noé Santana, Operation Manager at BKT bicipública.

Stage Intelligence’s AI-based BICO platform uses citywide data and the leading AI-technology to provide actionable insights for operators whilst addressing some of the biggest challenges in bike-share.

“The partnership between Stage Intelligence and BKT demonstrates how organisations in the UK and Mexico can collaborate to create greener cities and happier citizens. Thanks to the support of the British Embassy in Mexico, Stage Intelligence and BKT have shown that innovation doesn’t have borders,” said Manuel Mandujano, Trade and Investment Officer at British Embassy Mexico.

Source: Intelligent Transport

Volkswagen’s Latest Project: The AI Car

CeBIT Logo 2000px PNG

Volkswagen’s Latest Project: The AI Car

“The next three or four years will be decisive,” says Chief Digital Officer at Volkswagen Johann Jungwirth on the reinvention of the car.

At the CeBIT Global Conferences, he explained what VW is working on and what role artificial intelligence will play for the car of tomorrow.

Let’s start with what Jungwirth did NOT speak about at the Sakura Stage in Hall 8: alternative engines. That was it really. Instead, the Volkswagen CDO showed, in fast-forward, how the corporation is digitizing its core business. The key term here was artificial intelligence. “AI is everywhere and it will take on a central role in the car of the future,” states Jungwirth. No one expects it to replace humans, but to complement us where it can – in the dashboard, for example.

“Today you have to push seven or eight buttons before you find what you’re looking for on the in-car entertainment system. We want to reduce that number to one – if not zero.” With this, he means to say that our voices and gestures will come to control far more than just the sat nav. The car recognizes its driver’s expressions, mood, and destination. By monitoring location data and road behavior, the user experience adapts to each specific situation.

Self-Driving Cars Right to Your Door

“The engine used to represent the heart of a car, but the autonomous driving system will soon take over.” AI is of course central here as well. The self-driving car is expected to make transport safer, preventing over a million traffic-related deaths a year. It should make parking easier, too. According to Jungwirth, we waste a third of our time in cars looking for parking spots. The autonomous vehicle would solve this problem by dropping the passenger off at their front door before finding a place to park by itself. It could then be summoned back at the touch of a button.

And discussions on parking didn’t end there. Huge car parks have long been required in highly-developed cities. But Jungwirth claims that in a couple of years only a seventh of these will be necessary. This is because fewer people will be buying cars, with the preference shifting towards using them only on demand. “For 96 percent of the time, cars just sit there,” states Jungwirth. An autonomous shared vehicle would be almost permanently in motion, dropping one passenger off and immediately locating the next – like a self-driving taxi. VW is the first company to develop this kind of mobility concept – which it has given the working title “Sedric” (self-driving car).

Will it remain just a concept? Yes, most likely. But a whole host of Sedric-inspired ideas will undoubtedly become reality – perhaps even in the next three to four years.

Find out more about Sedric and the CeBIT Global Conferences .

Source: CeBIT

 

AI software startup FiveAI raises £2.06M to power autonomous vehicles

 

 

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FiveAI, an AI software startup targeting autonomous vehicles, has raised £2.06 million in funding in a round led by Amadeus Capital Partners with participation from Spring Partners and Notion Capital.

The company is aiming to utilise the latest in computer vision and AI/machine learning to ensure self-driving cars comprehend and navigate their immediate environment. FiveAI plans to reach simulator and supervised road testing before raising a larger amount of funds. The startup will then begin working with vehicle OEMs to develop production-ready software.

The funding will be used to improve its autonomous vehicle software stack and grow its team of AI/machine learning and other software engineers. FiveAI wants to use AI/machine learning and computer vision to eliminate the requirement for highly detailed “prior 3D mapping” of environments. The startup’s software stack, used along with a range of onboard sensors/cameras aims to allow autonomous vehicles to safely and accurately navigate even complex urban environments with much simpler maps.

“Amadeus is very excited by the investment opportunity arising from advances in autonomous vehicles,” said Hermann Hauser, Amadeus Capital co-founder and partner. “FiveAI has a world-class technology founding team which we have backed three times before and which has successfully build and exited companies worth over £1 billion.”

Hauser added: “We’re excited to support this team in building a European powerhouse for autonomous vehicle technology, through the use of machine learning and state of the art university research to revolutionise the guidance systems for autonomous vehicles.”

Source: Connected Car