Monthly Archives: June 2021

Why we still didn’t dive in numerous robotics startups

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In 2019, the robotics company Jibo filed for bankruptcy. Notably, Time magazine named Jibo’s eponymous social bot one of the best innovations of 2017. Failure to raise funding in time led to Jibo’s inglorious demise as well.

In April of that year, San Francisco-based robotics startup Anki closed up store, filing for bankruptcy. During its nine-year existence, the company developed such popular robot toys as Overdrive, Cozmo and Vector. CEO Boris Sofman blamed last-minute financial difficulties for the company’s closure.

Both Anki and Jibo were promising startups. Although Google-owned Schaft, Rethink Robotics and Mayfield Robotics showed great potential, they too eventually closed. If history is to be believed, robotics as a business is hard to sustain.

In 2020, a charming video of robots dancing to the 1962 hit “Do You Love Me” appeared on the Internet. The video featured robots from Boston Dynamics. The company is hugely popular for its nimble and smart service robots.

In recent years, however, Boston Dynamics has suffered major losses. In the fiscal year that ended in March 2020, the company posted a net loss of $103 million, a 60 percent increase over the year before. Later, automobile giant Hyundai came to the rescue of tBoston Dynamics and bought a controlling stake in the company.

So what explains the sad fate of some robotics pioneer companies?

Fresh Consulting analyzed significant case studies from Rethink Robotics to iRobot for its report “Why Robotics Companies Fail” and presented it on June 11 at a panel discussion moderated by James Dietrich of Fresh Consulting, with guest speakers Aaron Prater, senior advisor to the technology research and planning group at FedEx Express; Andra Kay, managing director of Silicon Valley Robotics and advisor on startup gas pedals, and Eric Klein, partner and founder of Lemnos Labs.

In a lively discussion, the speakers talked about what key success or failure factors were most likely in their experiences. Eric Klein says, “We are entering a golden era for applied robotics. It’s never been easier or cheaper from a technology standpoint to build robotics companies. But in terms of venture capital, there are still business barriers, especially in understanding customer economics.”

With his extensive experience at FedEx with robotics companies, Aaron Prater agrees that knowing and understanding the customer is the biggest reason startups fail. “One of the things we pay a lot of attention to at FedEx is making sure the technology fits the right use case. How well do you know your customer’s problems and needs?”

The struggle of robotics companies to keep their heads above water, as opposed to thriving AI companies, is a truly contrasting example. In the past 12 months, AI-focused startups have raised a total of $73.4 billion. In the same time period (through March 11, 2021), robotics startups have raised $6.3 billion, a paltry sum by comparison.

Andra Kay believes the lack of business fundamentals is the most critical mistake a young company faces. SM. SM. NEWS

First ride on Hyperloop, Apple chips in M1 and other top news this week Developing hardware is hard, and robotics is even harder. Developing robots requires knowledge and skills spanning several areas, including software, mechanics, electronics, electro-mechanics, and complex assembly. Getting machines to perform simple actions such as climbing stairs or moving around a room without encountering obstacles can be quite a challenge. This is one reason why most robots are limited to limited, repetitive tasks, as in the case of stationary industrial robots and semi-autonomous robots. The return on resources spent on R&D is far from optimal, making it difficult to sustain the business.

What’s next
Despite the looming uncertainty in the field, reports indicate that the robotics industry could grow from $76.6 billion in 2020 to $176.8 billion in 2025. The lack of demand for robots outside of a few areas, such as logistics and hospitals, has been cited as another major reason for the decline in growth.


The world’s giants and their latest AI solutions

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AI is implemented almost everywhere and in everything, but global companies, not tall as this girl, but quite high, past social networks and online shopping where the recommendation system actively takes part as a main favorite, are always interested in additional areas to bring innovation to the whole world, not one segment of it.

Facebook AI recently introduced TextStyleBrush, a system that analyzes a banner ad, newspaper or any other medium of text information in real time, allowing it to replace what is written on the medium with text that the user creates.

The model, which uses the underlying StyleGAN2 framework, handles both handwriting input and typography and is able to analyze various subtleties of style and account for transformations and deformations such as rotations and twists. The authors note, however, that improvements still need to be made, particularly in the realism of replacements on metal supports and in the handling of reflections.

A little while ago, Facebook also launched GrokNet, a unified computer vision model with which they intend to create the world’s largest social media shopping platform. The model is currently running on Facebook Marketplace. The company soon plans to expand GrokNet to new apps on Facebook and Instagram.

GrokNet detects the products in the picture and predicts their categories. Unlike previous models, Facebook’s product recommendation system is a universal model that scales to billions of photos vertically, including fashion, auto and home decor.

If we talk about computer vision, it is impossible not to mention Google, which are big fans in the practice of this branch, especially in the practice for various areas such as in this case, medicine.

The University of Waterloo has been noted as using artificial intelligence for its researches, in particular now – the detection of skin cancer. It was noted by Google, which subsequently presented their solution to detect skin diseases by photos in real time.

Приложение Google Health инструмент искусственный интеллект фотоанализ кожные проблемы болезни глубокое обучение

The user takes three pictures of an area of skin, hair or nails that they think has a dermatological problem and answers a few questions about their skin type and the problem itself (other symptoms, pain and/or how long etc.).

And for the development of AI itself, in particularly the participation of ordinary users who are not programming gurus, Apple is creating a non-code AI platform.

The platform allows machine learning researchers and non-technical geospatial specialists to experiment with domain-specific signals and datasets to solve different problems. It adapts complex spatiotemporal datasets to standard deep learning models, in this case convolutional neural networks (CNNs), and formulates disparate problems in a standard way, such as semantic segmentation.

Perhaps to maintain this platform, gurus like people who have devoted years to learning certain languages will act merely as mentors, because IBM has announced Project CodeNet, a large dataset that aims to help teach AI how to understand and write code by itself.

CodeNet features 500 million lines of code, 14 million examples, and spans 55 programming languages including Python, C++, Java, Go, COBOL, Pascal, and more. Projects such as OpenAI’s GPT-3 are showing how AIs are becoming quite adept at penning the languages of us humans, but writing their own native code could be innovative for finding another different methods to solve the problems with code.



A pierced married fisherman having acupuncture is more likely to get cancer than a drug addict?

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Recently I’ve been interested in watching interviews with people who have achieved something because their thoughts have led to results.YouTube recommendations came me across a video about a businessman, entrepreneur, owner of manufacturing, grocery supermarkets and the largest independent online bank in the world – Oleg Tinkov however this video was not about his successes, but about the illness that had recently appeared. It turns out that Oleg has blood cancer and has been undergoing rehabilitation in England for a year, which is only halfway. I was shocked and at the same time interested in this situation, because Tinkov is a man who can ride >100 km on a bicycle in a row, who does not deny himself to eat any and healthy food, who has a good family and friends relationships (at least what we can see). And then I was curious to look at other patients and their lifestyles in order try to find correlations, which can lead to such consequences.


So he got Leukaemia which is one of the most health global problems, in other words, cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues, while hepatitis C infection is one of the drivers of blood cancer. Our exploratory data analysis aims to identify demographic characteristics, lifestyle/behavioural habits and risk factors associated with this infection and the resulting expected disease.

The database consists of patients (aged ≥18 years) in Kedah, Malaysia and their various hobbies or practices in which the patient or the potential patient may participate.

Some of Database Tables

The analysis begins with a review of the Acupuncture, Piercing, and Tattooing columns, which are being analyzed from the side of the infected people. Each group had a different number of people, recalling particular columns, of which those who used foreign objects as a service were subsequently identified, the number of all people brewing in the range (~200). The results demonstrate that the greatest demand was made for the piercing (72), which is ~2 times higher than tattooing (31) and 6 times higher than acupuncture (12).

To identify non-standard factors influencing disease, we also identified more standard by association, but no less influential, such as the relationship of prisoners to drug use. The resulting group provides an opportunity to experiment with its interaction with more ethical groups and perhaps even ridiculous ideas for connection, such as cosmetic codifications or cupping.


The approach described above has led us to some interesting insights, as you saw in the title and: a large number of sexual partners will not be good, and especially if the person happens to be married. Blood transfusions in the body can only improve the situation, but the opposite is more likely to occur if it happened before 1992. People who have a spouse with hepatitis and use cosmetic procedures have a slightly higher likelihood of becoming infected. Single pierced health care workers would be better off finding someone to reduce the infection risk.

Lifestyle impact on disease likelihood EDA

Anhelina Pugach
Danila Kliachkovski

The full research:

Autonomous trucks

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More shipping companies are currently looking for an option to automate their technology. Demand for goods is constantly rising and with COVID outrbreak, there appeared a danger of having not enough labor. That is why option of self-driving vehicles is very valuable, especially for companies that take care of transport.

What about when this technology will be available

This idea is being developed and tested in the United States. Considering that it is travel related, its routes must be analyzed. That creates a high geographical dependency of release. So one cannot just buy the product and apply it to his supply chains.

How would it work

Companies resigned from the idea of fully automated travel. For that, the algorithm would have to be very complex to create. People would want to find a temporary solution to ever rising demand as quickly as possible. That is why the model has been simplified. The truck is being operated by a human in urban and local space and self-drives on a highway. The truck after being loaded is transported by a human driver to a transfer hub, where the robot takes over and travels the highway to get to another hub. From there until the destination it is driven by a human again.

How is it better

The robot unlike human does not tire which transfers to many benefits. It can work longer and travel 24 hours a day, thus prolonging the covered distance and doubling the delivery capacity. Moreover it is ever vigilant of threats and is more likely to avoid road accidents. The truck also can maintain constant speed which reduces the overall costs of the fuel. Finally it decreases human involvement, which would be essential if there ever occurred a pandemic again.

My opinion

I think that besides creating the product it would also be needed to look into law issues. These trucks would often need to be traveling across states, or in future countries. Many of these do not even have regulated laws concerning automated vehicles. Even if they did, with crossing a border the law would change, thus creating an additional obstacle for creating an algorithm.


In conclusion, there are only benefits of this solution, only people did not know they would need this kind of tech right now. The only thing left to introduce this idea to life now is to test it in practice and spread it across the world.


New space

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The new space domain is gaining traction with numerous new projects run by the new space industry leaders like space x, virgin orbit, or blue origin. Space X is building their project Starlink, which goal is to provide the ultra-low latency internet connection. It is meant to happen through dozen satellites positioned on the low earth orbit. It is independent and easy to set up. This, in turn, allows the remote locations to be connected to the world without the copper lines. In this case, the space giant is providing its consumer services. However, most of the new space sector will be created on the components of the giants but by the small, medium, and big companies not directly involved in satellite production.

As the IoT sector is growing the needs for reliable and fast connection are more important than ever in this case the space industry offers a breakthrough. The Maxar company is introducing their solutions to help the remote islands of Indonesia to obtain internet access. Another incredible area of Maxar is their cooperation with NASA on advanced optical communications and enhanced radio frequency architecture. This, in turn, will allow exploration of the new spaces in the solar system.

As the space domain is increasingly more important in the political sense, the exploratory activities have strong political characterization and are international competition. The thing is no different in Europe. Germany, France, Italy, and Sweden have well-established space agencies focused on ensuring geopolitical security by gaining space sovereignty. Thus, in the European region, where national agencies exist alongside the common European agency, there is a clear divide between the geopolitical domain and the business domain where the new space is usable. This, in turn, creates an interesting space where the politics are separated from the business, consequently creating an area where small-medium companies can enter just to make money and not be part of the political game, at least to some extend.

The opportunities that space gives are of great importance for the safety and prosperity of the earth. An example of a very pragmatic usage of the space domain for the earth’s purposes could be the solution that provides the geospatial data from the oil tanks in the middle east to the stock exchange brokers in New York to check if the oil prices are under or overestimated. Another example is the cooperation of NHS and UK’sUK’s agency and ESA to increase healthcare quality by improving the patients reach with telerehabilitation and tele-homecare. Along with the transportable point of care solutions.

We can see that the new space industry is not the niche creating the new business opportunities but the domain where the old niches will thrive.


Sotheby’s auction house sold COVID CryptoPunk NFT for $11.8 million dollars

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Founded in 1744, Sotheby’s auction house set a world record by selling NFT CryptoPunk # 7523, also known as COVID Alien, for 4,520 ETH ($ 11.8 million at the time of the deal). The visually non-fungible token depicts a masked alien.

The previous owner of COVID Alien, nicknamed Sillytuna, acquired it through an over-the-counter transaction. After the auction closed, he tweeted “NFTs are dead.”

CryptoPunks is one of the first NFT collections on the Ethereum blockchain, released by software developer Larva Labs in 2017. Tokens are 8-bit images of 24×24 pixels.

Sotheby’s is one of the world’s oldest auction houses. Together with the Christie’s auction house it occupies about 90% of the world market for auction sales of antiques, art objects, etc. It is the world’s largest auction house (in terms of total sales revenue for 2011).


Miami Mayor Offers Chinese Bitcoin Miners The City’s Clean Nuclear Power.

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Ukrainian Nuclear Plant Housed Illicit Crypto Mining Operation - YellowBlock

With the increasing concentration of Bitcoin mining in North America, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is seeking to position his city as a hub for cryptocurrency mining.

Speaking on CNBC, Mayor Suarez said he is inviting foreign mining companies to consider setting up data centres in the city.

Suarez said that Miami has sufficient nuclear power, and this should attract Bitcoin miners looking to harness clean energy for their operations, especially amid the current focus on the perceived carbon footprint of cryptocurrency mining.


The debate continues on whether or not we should use live facial recognition in public areas

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You may probably have heard about China’s efforts to introduce a social scoring system based on live facial recognition in public areas. The idea was to give people points for doing good things, and punish those doing bad things – like jaywalking, fighting or stealing. 

Well, UK goes through a similar debate right now, and while it may not be as controversial as the Chinese scoring system, it still has gathered quite a lot of controversies. The question is, should UK apply live facial recognition to their already extensive network of CCTV cameras? What inpact would that have on society and would the positives outweigh the negatives? Let’s review the arguments that have been made by both sides. 

The difference between normal CCTV and this technology is that it can automatically indentify you by your facial feature and can pull up available data about you. Some look at the opportunities this could bring in finding people that have been doing bad things – such as thiefs or other criminals. They could be indentified by walking down the street or while buying groceries. It could also help with finding missing persons. 

On the other side, people are very distressed about the possibilities of doing harmful things with this technology. People often refer to the ‚Big Brother’ from George Orwell’s book, 1984. The UK information commisioner mentioned the following in one of her blog posts: “I am deeply concerned about the potential for live facial recognition (LFR) technology to be used inappropriately, excessively or even recklessly. When sensitive personal data is collected on a mass scale without people’s knowledge, choice or control, the impacts could be significant,”

There are also campaigns like Reclaim Your Face that fight against biometric mass surveilance and want to reclaim the public space. They believe that either to government or coporations will use this technology against the people. It’s just a matter of when, not if. 

What is your opinion on this? Do the negatives outweigh the positives or the other way around?  

Solar Panel Revolution, Perovskites.

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Olga Malinkiewicz is the person responsible for the recent renaissance of perovskites. This was due to her discovery in 2013 when she detected the new way of applying the perovskites not only on the glass surfaces and that attracted international attention to her discoveries. Today together with her team, she is disrupting the energy sector. The recently opened factory is a sign to the competitors that the change is coming fast.


Perovskites are the minerals discovered by the Russian scientist Gustav Rose in 1839. They are among the most common crystal structures found on the planet. They are responsible for 38% of the planet’s mass. Their presence has also been proved in the structure of other planets. 

Perovskites’s have been identified with semiconductor capabilities, and in comparison with silicons, they are characterized with exponentially higher defect tolerance. The fact of adaptability and efficiency is also recognizing their potential.


The technology is currently under intensive investigation aiming to make real-life solutions more reliable and ecological using perovskites. In 2013 in one of such research centers in Spain, Olga Malinkiewicz invented « a revolutionary method to produce solar cells by coating perovskites on flexible foils. This achievement earns her multiple awards and garners international media attention » Before Olga’s discovery, perovskites were only available for use on the glass, and her discovery increased the possibility to apply powerful minerals on a wider scale. This event is the moment when Saule Technologies is born. A year later she forms a team with Piotr Krych and Artur Kupczunas. Just a year later, prominent Japanese investor Hideo Sawada put his money into the project. 

The company is getting traction, and the eyes of the publicity are pointed to the team. The series of partnerships shown what perovskites on flexible foils are capable of.

  1. In-house electronic charger
  2. A4 size module is created for the Skanska park in Warsaw
  3. The solar carport 
  4. Partnership with Columbus (solar panels distributor)

The fact that Malinkiewicz decided to use the flexible foils made her dicsovery a perfect way to scale the perovskites’ capabilities. An example of a solution possible thanks to the chosen approach is creating a T-shirt that produces the energy and makes it possible to charge the phone just by exposing yourself to the light. The flexible foil of perovskites is implemented in the fabric of the clothes. Similarly, many solutions can be powered by panels thanks using the flexible foil. 

The price also plays in favor of perovskite-driven solutions as the solar cells could be just printed in the 3d printing machine and don’t have to be manufactured in complicated processes.

The great advantage that perovskite-based solar panels have over regular solar panels is their lower sensitivity to the change of angles of the absorbed light. Unlike the already known solutions, Saule Technologies identified that panels using their perovskite technology significantly lower side effects when angles of absorbed light change. Moreover, the panels maintain the same efficiency when absorbing both the sunlight and the light from artificial sources.

What is missing for the technology is the way to make the panels less degradable. The battery in an average phone is degradable after 50 years, and the perovskite technology charging the phone would become degradable after a couple of months.

Nonetheless, among the already established use cases, there are solar sunblinds, photovoltaic glass, bus stations, car parks, price tags. What is very promising about the technology is its scalability and palette of potential applications. 


Saule Tech. has a great journey ahead and is now in a crucial phase where the competition is trying to take over its leading place. Mrs. Olga indicates that it is not time to relax but to increase the speed of development. Crucial decisions about the place of building the next factory are about to happen. The team underlines that the place will be chosen based on the needs of local economies. Mr. Hideo Sawada announced the willingness to create the next factories in Japan, where the government expressed interest in supporting Saule’s venture. These facts show the management board’s geopolitical awareness and pragmatic thinking.

Anduril, the startup that wants to solve Americas biggest security challenges, just got funded $450M

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Anduril is a startup that creates cutting edge products for the US and its allies. They build everything from software, to drones and sentries. 

Andruil has now raised 450 million dollars giving it a valuation of 4.6 billion dollars, which is about 4 times greater than one year ago. Elad Gill, who is a former Googler and Twitter VP, has taken the lead on this investment round, however there have been a number of funds and investors that also joined this round. 

Since it’s foundation, the company has built a better and better relationship with the US army.

Last year it was chosen as one of the 50 companies to work on the Joint All-Domain Command and Control (JADC2) project or the US army.

Find more about this interesting start-up in this video made by Bloomberg.