A lot of AI applications this week talk about autonomous transportation. Let’s take a look.

Your Very Own Jeeves

We’ve heard a lot about robots delivering food orders, like pizza, but what about a little autonomous vehicle that can not only bring things to you but also deliver things for you? Did your kid forget her lunch while rushing out the door to school? Maybe you can send her those savory snacks in this container on wheels. Or you left for work, are now in the middle of an important morning business meeting, and are realizing you forgot to leave keys for your current house guest. This service could be a delivery option for you.

One company came out of stealth mode this week to show off its delivery-service robot and to suggest that its delivery robots will be live (somewhere in the United States) by the end of this year. Its four-compartment vehicle can only deliver locally, but it will drop off anything from supplies and groceries to flowers and restaurant orders. If the timeline holds true, delivery robots could soon be your reality. Check out the video here:

Robocops on the Rise?

Lots of patents are filed if to do nothing more than claim potential turf. And if companies do plan to make good on an idea, it may take a very long time, like Samsung’s foldable phone screen concept from 2014 that they are still hoping to release at some point. So while Ford just made a splash with its patent for an autonomous robocop car, it’s unlikely we’ll see this for a while, if ever.

Even with that caveat, the idea has a lot of people thinking about robotic law enforcement. The patent explanation shows that this autonomous cop car could employ optimal hiding places in order to catch offending drivers. Then the robocop would wirelessly connect to the car to confirm the car’s speed, check the driver’s license, or deliver a warning. But the level of access to information described in the patent is concerning to privacy advocates.

Ghost Ships Are Coming

If you’ve listened to our podcast episode on illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, you know that a lot of unscrupulous things happen on the high seas and through the commercial shipping medium. But what if no one manned these ships? Could it reduce illegal activities, like the illegal transfer of enslaved people, and death by piracy? Maybe, and yes (because no one would be on the ships for pirates to kill). Additionally, could unmanned ships reduce the number of marine accidents, since insurance companies say that 75 to 96 percent of them result from human error (frequently a result of fatigue)? Probably.

Rolls-Royce is working with the shipping industry on autonomous shipping, and they believe autonomous ferries will be operational in the next few years and autonomous ships will be navigating the high seas within ten to fifteen.

Unique of the Week: AI Allows Dancer to Play the Piano through Thin Air

This is not the first art-AI team-up; in fact, there have been several. However, Yamaha’s application of AI is oddly mesmerizing and just might herald a new era of dance. The company created an AI that translated Kaiji Moriyama’s movements into piano music, where the dancer controlled the piano with his dance moves. Check it out here:

Keep an Eye Out:

AI will make a splash at the winter Olympics coming up on Feb. 9 in South Korea, and the man that worked with the South Korean government to make it happen is more anxious than excited, which is understandable. While a lot can go right, a lot can also go wrong, and all of it will very much be in the public eye. So while you’re watching the Olympic commentary coming from South Korea, keep an eye out for schools of autonomous robotic fish, humanoid skiing robots, and even a (hopefully very unnecessary) disaster recovery robot.

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