The new Picasso? Meet Ai-Da the robot artist

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The rubberised head of Ai-Da, a humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using her bionic eyes and hand, is painstakingly given lifelike features by Mike Humphrey, a specialist at robotics company Engineered Arts, in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain February 7, 2019. (REUTERS)
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A woman interacts with Ai-Da, a humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using her bionic eyes and hand, at the offices of robotics company Engineered Arts, in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain February 7, 2019. (REUTERS)
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The head of Ai-Da, a humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using her bionic eyes and hand, is seen in the offices of robotics company Engineered Arts, in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain February 7, 2019. (REUTERS)
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The head of Ai-Da, a humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using her bionic eyes and hand, is seen in the offices of robotics company Engineered Arts, in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain February 7, 2019. (REUTERS)
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The rubberised head of Ai-Da, a humanoid robot capable of drawing people from life using her bionic eyes and hand, is painstakingly given lifelike features by Mike Humphrey, a specialist at robotics company Engineered Arts, in Falmouth, Cornwall, Britain February 7, 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 11 February 2019
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The new Picasso? Meet Ai-Da the robot artist

  • Cameras in each of her eyeballs recognize human features — she will make eye contact and follow you around the room, opening and closing her mouth as you do

FALMOUTH, England: Can robots be creative? British gallery owner Aidan Meller hopes to go some way toward answering that question with Ai-Da, who her makers say will be able to draw people from sight with a pencil in her bionic hand.
Meller is overseeing the final stages of her construction by engineers at Cornwall-based Engineered Arts.
He calls Ai-Da — named after British mathematician and computer pioneer Ada Lovelace — the world’s first “AI ultra-realistic robot artist,” and his ambition is for her to perform like her human equivalents.
“She’s going to actually be drawing and we’re hoping to then build technology for her to paint,” Meller said after seeing Ai-Da’s prosthetic head being carefully brought to life by specialists individually attaching hairs to form her eyebrows.
“But also as a performance artist she’ll be able to engage with audiences and actually get messages across; asking those questions about technology today.”
Her skeletal robotic head may stand disembodied on a workbench, but her movements are very much alive.
Cameras in each of her eyeballs recognize human features — she will make eye contact and follow you around the room, opening and closing her mouth as you do. Get too close and she’ll back away, blinking, as if in shock.
Ai-Da’s makers say she will have a “RoboThespian” body with expressive movements and she will talk and answer questions.
“There’s AI (artificial intelligence) running in the computer vision that allows the robot to track faces to recognize facial features and to mimic your expression,” said Marcus Hold, Design & Production Engineer at Engineered Arts.
Ai-Da’s makers are using “Mesmer” life-like robot technology for her head, and once finished she will have a mixed race appearance with long dark hair, silicone skin and 3D printed teeth and gums.
“(Mesmer) brings together the development of software mechanics and electronics to produce a lifelike face with lifelike gestures in a small human sized package,” Hold said.
Ai-Da will present her inaugural exhibition “Unsecured Futures” in May at the University of Oxford, and her sketches will go on display in London in November.


NASA probe detects likely ‘marsquake’ — an interplanetary first

A life-size model of the spaceship Insight, NASA's first robotic lander dedicated to studying the deep interior of Mars, is shown at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, U.S. November 26, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 April 2019
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NASA probe detects likely ‘marsquake’ — an interplanetary first

  • A more distant quake would yield greater information about Mars’ interior because seismic waves would “penetrate deeper into the planet before they come back up to the seismometer,” he said

CALIFORNIA: NASA’s robotic probe InSight has detected and measured what scientists believe to be a “marsquake,” marking the first time a likely seismological tremor has been recorded on another planet, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California reported on Tuesday.
The breakthrough came nearly five months after InSight, the first spacecraft designed specifically to study the deep interior of a distant world, touched down on the surface of Mars to begin its two-year seismological mission on the red planet.
The faint rumble characterized by JPL scientists as a likely marsquake, roughly equal to a 2.5 magnitude earthquake, was recorded on April 6 — the lander’s 128th Martian day, or sol.
It was detected by InSight’s French-built seismometer, an instrument sensitive enough to measure a seismic wave just one-half the radius of a hydrogen atom.
“We’ve been collecting background noise up until now, but this first event officially kicks off a new field: Martian seismology,” InSight principal investigator Bruce Banerdt said in a news release.
Scientists are still examining the data to conclusively determine the precise cause of the signal, but the trembling appeared to have originated from inside the planet, as opposed to being caused by forces above the surface, such as wind.
“The high frequency level and broad band is very similar to what we get from a rupture process. So we are very confident that this is a marsquake,” Philippe Lognonné, a geophysics and planetary science professor at University Paris Diderot in France and lead researcher for InSight’s seismometer, said in an email.
Still, a tremor so faint in Southern California would be virtually lost among the dozens of small seismic crackles that occur there every day.
“Our informed guesswork is that this a very small event that’s relatively close, maybe from 50 to 100 kilometers away” from the lander, Banerdt told Reuters by telephone.
A more distant quake would yield greater information about Mars’ interior because seismic waves would “penetrate deeper into the planet before they come back up to the seismometer,” he said.
 
The size and duration of the marsquake also fit the profile of some of the thousands of moonquakes detected on the lunar surface between 1969 and 1977 by seismometers installed there by NASA’s Apollo missions, said Lori Glaze, planetary science division director at NASA headquarters in Washington.
The lunar and Martian surfaces are extremely quiet compared with Earth, which experiences constant low-level seismic noise from oceans and weather as well as quakes that occur along subterranean fault lines created by shifting tectonic plates in the planet’s crust.
Mars and the moon lack tectonic plates. Their seismic activity is instead driven by a cooling and contracting process that causes stress to build up and become strong enough to rupture the crust.
Three other apparent seismic signals were picked up by InSight on March 14, April 10 and April 11 but were even smaller and more ambiguous in origin, leaving scientists less certain they were actual marsquakes.
Lognonné said he expected InSight to eventually detect quakes 50 to 100 times larger than the April 6 tremor.