Photo by Marc Fulgar on Unsplash
  • In Pinduoduo's Smart Agriculture Competition, four technology teams competed with traditional farmers over four months to grow strawberries.
  • Data analysis, intelligent sensors and greenhouse automation helped the scientists win.
  • Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies such as AI are forecast to deliver huge productivity gains – but need the right governance, according to the Global Technology Governance Report 2021.
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Scientists study moving worm "blobs" to create robot swarms

Robot developers adapt the behavior of worm "blobs".

Credit: Georgia Tech University.
  • Researchers at Georgia Tech adapt the behavior of worm "blobs" to robotic swarms.
  • The goal is to utilize useful aspects of living systems in human-created ones.
  • When part of a "blob," worms tend to survive better and have more capabilities than individually.
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Soft fabric robot grips objects like an elephant's trunk

The new tool may someday be used in work that needs a light touch.

Credit: UNSW Medical Robotics Lab
  • A team of engineers has developed a shape shifting tool that can grasp strangely shaped objects.
  • Unlike robots based on claws, this device can wrap around objects for a better grip.
  • It could be commercially available in as little as a year.
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Tiny parasite-like robots are the future of pain relief

Researchers design microdevices that can gradually deliver medicine by latching on to intestines.

Credit: Johns Hopkins University
  • A research team from Johns Hopkins University designs microdevices that can deliver medicine.
  • The tiny robots are based on parasite hookworms.
  • The machines can latch on to the intestines and gradually release pain-relieving drugs.
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COVID-19 is accelerating the pace of automation and the need for UBI

The pandemic has given us an early glimpse at how truly disruptive the fourth industrial revolution may be, and the measures we'll need to support human dignity.

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • The coronavirus crisis has acted as a catalyst for two powerful transformative forces: automation and universal basic income.
  • These two intertwined forces will undoubtedly gain steam, writes Frederick Kuo, and the pandemic will hasten the acceptance of them from a scale of decades to years or mere months.
  • This crisis has ushered in a glimpse of what a dystopian future could look like as a rapidly advancing fourth industrial revolution inevitably causes severe disruption in our economy and labor structure.
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