Ever-Smarter Robots Struggle to Explain Themselves

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The deployment of artificial intelligence in industry continues at a breakneck pace. Industry is adopting state-of-the-art AI techniques, like reinforcement learning, and neural network architectures, such as Transformers and LSTMs, with great results (see Ford below). But how to practically augment an industrial AI system with explainability is an open topic. Current explainable AI (XAI) techniques such as Shapley values can be traced back to the 1950s and effectively treat AI as a black box. Eventually, the bottleneck of using AI in manufacturing environments will be due to the lack of explainability in AI systems.

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Start-ups Powering New Era of Industrial Robotics

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Author: James Falkoff

Topics: robotics, automated guided vehicle, machine learning

Vertical: Machinery

Organizations: Ready Robotics, ArtiMinds, Realtime Robotics, RIOS, Vicarious

Much of the bottleneck to achieving automation in manufacturing relates to limitations in the current programming model of industrial robotics. Programming is done in languages proprietary to each robotic hardware OEM – languages “straight from the 80s” as one industry executive put it.

There are a limited number of specialists who are proficient in these languages. Given the rarity of the expertise involved, as well as the time it takes to program a robot, robotics application development typically costs three times as much as the hardware for a given installation.

Read more at Robotics Business Review

Application Layer Protocol Options for M2M and IoT Functionality

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Author: Jody Muelaner

Topics: IIoT, MQTT

Organizations: Digi-Key Electronics, ISO

With adoption of Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 functions, devices are increasingly connected via industrial protocols. What’s more, today’s machine to machine (M2M) communications are rapidly standardizing on these protocols. Complicating matters is that IoT protocols don’t describe a single application-layer protocol, as several standards are in operation. So while early IoT implementations used standard internet protocols, there are also dedicated IoT protocols now available.

Modeling communication structures and identifying the right protocol for a particular application can be daunting. This article outlines what various protocols do as well as the options available for these protocols — so design engineers can more easily select the most suitable to integrate.

Read more at Digi-Key Article Library

Ford's Ever-Smarter Robots Are Speeding Up the Assembly Line

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Author: Will Knight

Topics: AI, machine learning, robotics

Vertical: Automotive

Organizations: Ford, Symbio Robotics

At a Ford Transmission Plant in Livonia, Michigan, the station where robots help assemble torque converters now includes a system that uses AI to learn from previous attempts how to wiggle the pieces into place most efficiently. Inside a large safety cage, robot arms wheel around grasping circular pieces of metal, each about the diameter of a dinner plate, from a conveyor and slot them together.

The technology allows this part of the assembly line to run 15 percent faster, a significant improvement in automotive manufacturing where thin profit margins depend heavily on manufacturing efficiencies.

Read more at WIRED

How Pfizer Makes Its Covid-19 Vaccine

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Authors: Emma Cott, Elliot deBruyn, Jonathan Corum

Topics: COVID-19

Vertical: Pharmaceutical

Organizations: Pfizer, BioNTech

“This is where the magic happens.”– Patrick McEvoysenior director of operations and engineering

A rack of 16 pumps precisely controls the flow of the mRNA and lipid solutions, then mixes them together to create lipid nanoparticles.

When the lipids come into contact with the naked strands of mRNA, electric charge pulls them together in a nanosecond. The mRNA is enveloped in several layers of lipids, forming an oily, protective vaccine particle.

Synchronizing eight pairs of pumps is not an ideal solution, but Pfizer engineers chose to scale up existing technology instead of trying to build a larger, unproven type of precision mixing device.

The newly made vaccine is filtered to remove the ethanol, concentrated and filtered again to remove any impurities, and finally sterilized.

Read more at New York Times (Paid)

OPC-UA: the Universal Language of Industry 4.0

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Author: A Cartwright

Topics: OPC Unified Architecture, IIoT

Organizations: OPC Foundation, Ai Build

Forgive the obscene title of this article, for implying OPC-UA is nothing but a simple communication protocol is a great injustice. Indeed, OPC-UA encompasses this, but also so much more. It is a living, breathing, specification: one that outlines an information-centric architecture that is interwoven with security systems-systems which permeate a definitive rule-set for device modelling and communication.

At its essence, OPC-UA is a platform-independent, machine-to-machine communications architecture that focuses on providing an object-oriented approach to modelling data.

Read more at Ai Build TechBlog