Assorted Cool Technology - 2012-02-24

Posted on February 24, 2012

The Cylons are taking to the streets! Well, not literally, but their forebearers certainly are.
As I’ve written about at the OneOverZero blog, robotic, self-driving cars are about to be allowed to legally drive the streets of Nevada.
This is an important step (albeit a very early one) on the way to full parity between human-driven and self-driving automotive vehicles on the public roads. Something that will inevitably happen and which can be a really big step for humanity in many ways (not the least of which are the reduction in the number of road accidents and of time wasted while on transit).

Related to the previous topic, the Udacity on-line university has opened up it’s first courses, with one in particular that I have my eye on: “Artificial Intelligence for Robotics: CS 373: Programming a Robotic Car”.
From what I’ve been able to gather about it, the course is a natural continuation to Stanford-based Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, which I took in the fall and it picks up neatly where it left off, with localization and particle filtering in full swing.
I find this course very exciting, not necessarily for the automobile component of it, but more for the hands-on approach it seems to take to the mobile robot orientation and guidance issues.
What still remains to be seen is if I can find the time to follow along this course. When I took the ai-class and ml-class courses, last fall, I got really, really strained for time…

Other bits of interesting tech on the radar (because, you know, I’m going to quit my job and start taking some speeds to get a full 23h a day of free time) are:

  • OpenNI, OpenKinect and the whole 3D camera scene (pun intended), of which the Kinect is the most accessible piece of gear at the moment, from what I can tell. There’s an excellent introduction to all of this in the Making Things See book;
  • ROS (still going strong and obviously related to all of the rest of the issues on this post);
  • and 3D printing, courtesy of my friend Nuno Correia (who also appears to have an infinite amount of curiosity, while also on a tight time budget).