Tag: Robot

Kiwis build angry customer services robot

t2fA New Zealand company called Touchpoint Group is building a robot which it says will get really angry.

The big idea is that companies really have not got a clue how to deal with angry customers and even actors have a job being accurately angry all day for training purposes.

Touchpoint is investing $500,000 to develop, is being built with input from one of Australia’s big four banks, which is supplying reams of real-life customer interactions that have been collated over the past two years. Telecommunications companies and insurance firms are also contributing data.

The project carries the name Radiant which in the novels of Isaac Asimov predicted how humans might behave in the future.

Once complete, the project will simulate hundreds of millions of angry customer interactions that will help companies better understand the behaviours and processes that trigger customer outbursts. Such as not mentioning the war when talking to Japanese or German customers, or referring to the French as cheese eating surrender monkeys/

Touchpoint CEO Frank van der Velden said that companies don’t have the numbers of staff to go through this manually. A bank receive data every day. But it gets to a point where that dataset grows so large that it becomes meaningless unless you can interpret it. That’s where Radiant will fit in.
“We’re not in the business of managing complaints; we are in the business of managing issues that might turn into complaints. We’re at the top of the cliff, not at the bottom. This will allow companies to better predict and identify those issues,” he told the Australian Business Review.


Police seize Swiss druggie robot

Robbie_Forbidden_PlanetA Swiss art project entitled “The Random Darknet Shopper” has been spending $100 in Bitcoins to buy random products off the Darknet.

The project used a Darknet-surfing robot and apparently managed to buy 10 ecstasy tablets and a bogus Hungarian passport scan.

The London-based Swiss artists !Mediengruppe Bitnik – Domagoj Smoljo and Carmen Weisskopf  wrote on their blog that the robot’s artistic habits did not impress Swiss coppers.

After the exhibition in Switzerland closed,  the public prosecutor’s office of St. Gallen seized and sealed their work with the purpose of “impeding an endangerment of third parties through the drugs exhibited by destroying them.”

The artists describe their medium as the use of hacking as an artistic strategy and say that they programmed The Random Darknet Shopper to answer the basic human questions like what does it mean for a society, when there are robots which act autonomously?

They are also curious to see who is liable, when a robot breaks the law on its own initiative.

Apparently the artists have discovered that it is them.

“We are the legal owner of the drugs – we are responsible for everything the bot does, as we executed the code. But our lawyer and the Swiss constitution says art in the public interest is allowed to be free,” they said.

Swiss prosecutors have yet to decide that point. But it does seem that the robot managed to have an interesting stash of illegal goods. This included a counterfeit pair of Diesel jeans, A Sprite stash can that you can hide drugs or cash in, a decoy letter, a baseball cap with a hidden, remote control, mini video camera, and a platinum Visa card, a carton of Chesterfield cigarettes from Moldavia and a master set of fire brigade keys.


Copyright troll used robo-harassment

trollCopyright troll Rightscorp is being dragged from under its bridge to face the music in court for harassing victims with illegal harassing robo-calls.

Morgan Pietz, one of the lawyers who wrapped “copyright troll” Prenda Law in judicial red tape is targeting Rightscorp saying the outfit made illegal, harassing robo-calls to his clients, who were accused of illegal downloading. The lawsuit says that Rightscorp broke the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), a 1991 law which limits how automated calling devices can be used.

Under the suit, Pietz claims that Rghtscorp was a “debt collector” but made harassing phone calls and didn’t abide by federal or California debt collection laws. Rightscorp company managers, including CEO Christopher Sabec and COO Robert Steele, and Rightscorp’s clients are all named as defendants in the lawsuit.

Violations of federal debt collection laws can result in damages of $1,000 and include provisions for paying lawyers’ fees in successful cases.  TCPA violations can cost $500 per incident, and that can be tripled if the violations were wilful.

Pietz says he doesn’t know how many violations have occurred. But he says just one of his named plaintiffs was subject to enough illegal phone calls to add up to tens of thousands of dollars in damages.

One victim, Jeanie Reif,  had her mobile phone called every day for a couple of months, Pietz said. And there could be thousands of members of this class.

If a judge agrees with Pietz that the phone calls were harassing and illegal, Rightscorp could be on the hook for many millions of dollars and that could send it under. The company has lost $6.5 million since its inception in 2011.

If it goes under the enforcement company’s marquee music clients, who include BMG Rights Management and Warner Brothers could end up having to pay up.

Harvard creates indestructible robot

t1000Boffins, who clearly have never seen any Terminator movie, have come up with an indestructible robot which is also super soft.

Also indicating that they never saw any 1980s slasher flims they have made it soft, like a child’s soft-toy thus creating Terminator chucky.

Of course, that is not what Harvard’s School for Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering are calling it. They are proud that “the world’s first untethered soft robot” can stand up and walk away from its designers, can walk through snow, fire and even be run over by a car.

They think that such robots might one day serve as a search and rescue tool following disasters, not create disasters by trying to take over the world.

A team of researchers that included Kevin Galloway, Michael Karpelson, Bobak Mosadegh, Robert Shepherd, Michael Tolley, and Michael Wehner scaled up earlier soft-robot designs, enabling a single robot to carry on its back all the equipment it needs to operate — micro-compressors, control systems, and batteries.

Tolley , a research associate in materials science and mechanical engineering at the Wyss Institute and the study’s first author, said that the earlier versions of soft robots were all tethered, which works fine in some applications.

One of the hardest things for the researchers was challenging people’s concept of what a robot has to look like.

“We think the reason people have settled on using metal and rigid materials for robots is because they’re easier to model and control. This work is very inspired by nature, and we wanted to demonstrate that soft materials can also be the basis for robots.”

The robot is a half-meter in length and capable of carrying as much as 7½ pounds on its back. Giving the untethered robot the strength needed to carry mechanical components meant air pressures as high as 16 pounds per square inch. To deal with the increased pressure, the robot had to be made of tougher stuff.

They used a “composite” silicone rubber made from stiff rubber impregnated with hollow glass microspheres to reduce the robot’s weight. The robot’s bottom was made from Kevlar fabric to ensure it was tough and lightweight. It is very important to have a touch and lightweight bottom.

Researchers tested the robot in snow, submerged it in water, walked it through flames, and even ran it over with a car. It could not be killed.

The researchers think that because the robot is soft and cuddly, humans are more likely to interact with it and it opens up many more opportunities.



Cloud teaches teaches robots

robby the robotResearchers at Cornell, Stanford and Brown universities and the University of California have come up with a method of teaching robots using the cloud.

Dubbed Robo Brain , the system is a large-scale computational system that learns from publicly available Internet resources. The data is translated and stored in a robot-friendly format that robots can draw on when they need it.
Ashutosh Saxena, assistant professor of computer science at Cornell University said that since  laptops and mobile phones don’t have access to all the information we want, the robot can query Robo Brain in the cloud.

Robo Brain will process images to pick out the objects in them, and by connecting images and video with text, it will learn to recognize objects and how they are used, along with human language and behaviour.

It speeds up the development time that a robot needs to work out what to do. If a robot sees a teacup, it can learn from Robo Brain not only that it is a teacup and not a coffee mug. It also can learn that liquids can be poured into or out of it, that it can be grasped by the handle, and that it must be carried upright when it is full.

The system employs what computer scientists call “structured deep learning,” where information is stored in many levels of abstraction. An easy chair is a member of the class of chairs, and going up another level, chairs are furniture. Robo Brain knows that chairs are something you can sit on, but that a human can also sit on a stool, a bench or the lawn.

The robot stores the information in a mathematical model, which can be represented graphically as a set of points connected by lines. The nodes could represent objects, actions or parts of an image, and each one is assigned a probability – how much you can vary it and still be correct.

This means that the robot’s brain makes its own chain and looks for one in the knowledge base that matches within those limits.


Robot created to pour drinks

ROBOT FRIDGEA robot which can pour its master another drink  has been created by scientists.

Researchers at Cornell’s Personal Robotics Lab have taught their creation to forsee human action with the task of refilling a person’s cup when it was nearly empty, without having to be asked – great for the silent and legless types at parties.

However, there are pitfuls. To be able to carry out the task the robot has to plan its movements in advance and then follow the plan. But if a human sitting at the table happens to raise the cup and drink from it,  the robot might pour a drink into a cup that isn’t there.

Nevertheless there’s also benefits. In another test, the robot observed a human carrying an object toward a refrigerator and helpfully opened the refrigerator door.

From a database of 120 3-D videos of people performing common household activities, the robot has been trained to identify human activities by tracking the movements of the body – reduced to a symbolic skeleton for easy calculation – breaking them down into sub-activities like reaching, carrying, pouring or drinking, and to associate the activities with objects. Since each person performs tasks a little differently, the robot can build a model that is general enough to match new events.

Observing a new scene with its Microsoft Kinnect 3-D camera, the robot identifies the activities it sees, considers what uses are possible with the objects in the scene and how those uses fit with the activities.

It then generates a set of possible continuations into the future – such as eating, drinking, cleaning, putting away – and finally chooses the most probable. As the action continues, it constantly updates and refines its predictions.

The research was supported by the U.S. Army Research Office, the Alfred E. Sloan Foundation and Microsoft.

Hema S. Koppula, Cornell graduate student in computer science, and Ashutosh Saxena, assistant professor of computer science, will describe their work at International Conference of Machine Learning, June 18-21 in Atlanta, and the Robotics: Science and Systems conference June 24-28 in Berlin, Germany.