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Industrial Robots Turn Construction Worker, One LEGO Brick at a Time

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LEGO bricks have proven themselves more than a simple children’s toy.

But can the plastic pieces provoke a major shift in industrial manufacturing?

Autodesk thinks so. Which is why the software company has been working on Brickbot—a project aimed at redefining how customers engage and collaborate with robots.

The system—a couple of android arms with cameras and sensors—doesn’t look like anything groundbreaking. But it’s what’s inside that counts.

A team of San Francisco-based researchers, led by Mike Haley and Yotto Koga, created neural networks that allow the machines to process and respond to data to accomplish an assigned task.

“The dirty little secret about industrial robots today is that they’re pretty dumb,” Autodesk wrote last month, promoting an article by Fast Company. “Change one variable on the assembly line and everything goes to hell.”

Brickbot, however, “can evaluate components (in this case, LEGOs), make decisions on the fly, and put them together in a flexible, responsive way.”

What sounds like child’s play (because, well, it is)—sorting through piles of bricks, selecting appropriate parts, correctly assembling and stacking—is actually an achievement in the field of robotics.

“The programming process is incredibly tedious, complicated, and frequently error-prone,” an Autodesk blog post said. “If it takes nine months to program your robot to perform a single task, you’re not going to change the design of your product or introduce new technology into your factory—it would simply take too much time and money.

“Machine learning could change all of that.”

Imagine the possibilities if Brickbot’s automated assembly technology were scaled up for use in factories and on construction sites.

“By starting with plastic bricks, we’ve been able to keep the project manageable while still having the freedom to experiment from the design stage all the way to a finished product,” according to Koga, a software architect with a Ph.D. in robotics.

“Now we’re close to taking the next step,” he said, tipping a partnership with manufacturing and construction customers “to see how the Brickbot technology can be applied in the real world.”

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Watch: Passengers Freak Out Over New Tesla Roadster’s Record-Setting Acceleration

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When Tesla announced its new version of the Roadster, which can accelerate in zero to 60 mph in 1.9 seconds, a lot of people were doubtful.

But a new video of the first test rides in the new Roadster, unveiled by Tesla on YouTube on Friday, shows that the “quickest car in the world” could actually be close to becoming a reality.

The video shows passengers’ hilarious reactions as the Roadster demonstrates its record-setting acceleration.

Reactions included a lot of “Holy S%!#” and “Oh My God” and “Holy F%!#”

According to Tesla, the all-new Roadster can travel 620 miles on a single charge – a new record for an all-electric vehicle.

“[It’s] the fastest production car ever made, period,” said Tesla founder Elon Musk. (Photo Credit: Tesla, Inc.)

The four-seater supercar can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 1.9 seconds and from zero to 100 mph in 4.2 seconds, and it boasts a top speed of 250 mph.

The all-new Roadster will cost $200,000 at launch (the first 1,000 are available for a ‘Founders Series Price’ of $250,000), and will be available in 2020.

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Cuba Rolls Out Mobile Internet Service to Citizens for the First Time

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Cubans will now be able to access the internet on their mobile phones, according to state-run telecom agency ETECSA.

The announcement is a milestone for the Communist-run country, which has long been considered one of the least connected countries in the world, and one of the last without mobile internet.

Starting Thursday, December 6, citizens would be able able to start subscribing to internet access via a 3G mobile network.

In a news show broadcast on Tuesday, ETECSA executives announced a range of packages valid for 30 days from 600 MB for the equivalent of $7 dollars to 4 GB for $30. Without a package, 100 MB will cost users $10, Reuters reported.

With average state wages at around $30, the cost for mobile internet will likely be out of reach for most Cubans, even though users get a bonus 300MB use of local .cu domain websites.

The list of packages for the connection to mobile internet from mobile phones is displayed on a woman’s phone screen in Havana, Cuba on December 6, 2018. (Photo Credit: Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images)

Until today, citizens have mostly relied on Wi-Fi hotspots and internet cafes for mobile internet access, and the 3G service has been restricted to state-employed journalists and foreign businesses among others, according to BBC News.

“It was about time this became a possibility for Cubans too,” Havana resident Joaquin Montiel, 58, told Reuters. “But for some, like me, it’s still a remote one.” Montiel said he would not be able to afford a cellphone with 3G technology on his salary of less than $20 per month as a salesman in a state company.

Still, the launch is seen by many as a sign that the country is further softening its tough stance on individual freedoms. Internet was only largely available to tourist hotels and state-run clubs until 2013, when the island country began opening internet cafes.

It wasn’t until 2015 when the first Wi-Fi hotspot opened at a cultural centre, and other public spaces followed, the BBC reported. But many Cubans have complained about having to brave the elements just to use the Wi-Fi at the hotspots, which also lack of privacy. In 2017, ETECSA offered a limited number of home connections.

To reduce the risk of being overwhelmed with demand, ETECSA is rolling out the new 3G service will be rolled out over a three-day period.

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Robot Vacuum Showdown: Neato Versus Roomba

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Cleaning can be a pain sometimes, especially if you have to use a clunky vacuum to suck up nasty debris. Thankfully though, technology has gifted us with handy smart home devices, including Neato […]

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