De Niro brings star quality to fight against climate change

American actor Robert De Niro, speaks during the World Government Summit in Dubai, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2018. (AP/Kamran Jebreili)
Updated 11 February 2018
0

De Niro brings star quality to fight against climate change

DUBAI: The government of the UAE has teamed up with Hollywood star Robert De Niro to raise awareness about the dangers of global climate change.

The Climate Project is a two-year initiative to share knowledge on coping with climate change, and to promote what was called “finance-able” climate resilience projects in developing countries.

De Niro, a long-standing campaigner against the effects of climate change in the Caribbean and especially the hurricane-ravaged island of Barbuda, said the ability to attract investment depended on the quality of projects a country proposed.

“If a country is strong, people will want to invest. In Barbuda, we’re there to help, to bring back what they had before, and investment is part of that, it’s really that simple. Community agriculture and sustainable development are key,” he said.

In a veiled criticism of the climate change-denying policies of the Trump administration, he added: “The situation in my country is not helpful, but we will fix that. When a country’s leaders fail to take a position, ordinary people have to write to their representatives and be on top of them to bring about change.”

The Climate Project will be run by the UAE ministries of foreign affairs and international co-operation, and climate change and environment. Thani Al-Zeyoudi, the climate change minister, said it would deliver climate initiatives and products to 10 million people by 2020.

“Through an innovative approach which brings together communications and media experts with scientists, thought leaders and government representatives, the project will produce products aimed at both the general public and decision makers. It is aimed at developing climate resilience standards,” he said.

The project will focus on three main areas: Gender and youth, because women and children often bear the brunt of climate change challenges; extreme weather events such as hurricanes and earthquakes; and sustainable solutions that offer long-term remedies to, and defenses against, climate issues.


Postman, shopper, builder: In Japan, there’s a robot for that

Updated 18 October 2018
0

Postman, shopper, builder: In Japan, there’s a robot for that

  • CarriRo “is designed to roll along the pavements and direct itself via GPS to an address within a two-kilometer radius,” explained Chio Ishikawa, from Sumitomo Corp, which is promoting the robot
  • The lucky recipient of the package is sent a code to a smartphone allowing him or her to access CarriRo’s innards and retrieve whatever is inside — post, medicine or a take-away

TOKYO: Forget the flashy humanoids with their gymnastics skills: at the World Robot Summit in Tokyo, the focus was on down-to-earth robots that can deliver post, do the shopping and build a house.
Introducing CarriRo, a delivery robot shaped a bit like a toy London bus with bright, friendly “eyes” on its front that can zip around the streets delivering packages at 6km/h (4 miles per hour).
CarriRo “is designed to roll along the pavements and direct itself via GPS to an address within a two-kilometer radius,” explained Chio Ishikawa, from Sumitomo Corp, which is promoting the robot.
The lucky recipient of the package is sent a code to a smartphone allowing him or her to access CarriRo’s innards and retrieve whatever is inside — post, medicine or a take-away.
Services like this are especially needed in aging Japan. With nearly 28 percent of the population over 65, mobility is increasingly limited and the country is struggling for working-age employees.
Toyota’s HSR (Human Support Robot) may not be an oil painting to look at — standing a meter tall, it looks like a bin with arms — but it can provide vital help for the aged or handicapped at home.
Capable of handling and manoeuvring a variety of objects, it also provides a key interface with the outside world via its Internet-connected screen for a head.
Japan’s manpower shortage is felt especially keenly in the retail and construction sectors and firms at the summit were keen to demonstrate their latest solutions.
Omron showcased a robot that can be programmed to glide around a supermarket and place various items into a basket. Possibly useful for a lazy — or infirm — shopper but more likely to be put to use in a logistics warehouse.
Japan also has difficulty finding staff to stack shelves at its 55,000 convenience stores open 24/7 and here too, robots can fill the gap.
With buildings going up at breakneck pace as Tokyo prepares to welcome the world for the 2020 Olympics, there are construction sites all over the city but not always enough people to work them.
Enter HRP-5P. The snappily named, humanoid-shaped machine certainly has the look of a brawny builder, at 182cm tall and weighing in at 101 kilogrammes.
And HRP-5P is designed to carry out the same construction tasks that humans currently perform — even when left to its own devices.
HRP-5P “can use the same tools as a man, which is why we gave it the shape of a human — two legs, two arms and a head,” explained one of its creators, Kenji Kaneko from the National Advanced Industrial Science and Technology research facility.
Manufacturers were also promoting the latest in talking robots, which are becoming increasingly “intelligent” in their responses.
Sharp’s Robohon, a cute-as-pie humanoid robot standing only 20 centimeters tall, has been employed since last month to recount to tourists the history of the ancient Imperial capital of Kyoto — in English, Japanese or Chinese.
And very popular among Japanese visitors to the World Robot Summit was a robot replica of Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, one of the country’s top TV stars.
Created in collaboration with Japanese robotics master Hiroshi Ishiguro, the robot replicates the 85-year-old’s facial expressions almost perfectly but conversation with the machine hardly flows.
“The difficulty is being able to create fluid conversations with different people,” said Junji Tomita, engineer at telecoms giant NTT which is also involved in the project.
“The number of possible responses to an open question is so vast that it is very complicated,” admitted Tomita.