Amazon hosted first re:MARS conference in Las Vegas in June, which bought some of the biggest names in the tech world including Jeff Bezos himself, Colin Angle the CEO of iRobot and Andrew Ng CEO of Landing AI face to face with recent cutting edge technology and ideas. Re:MARS is the first public version of the MARS event which is not open to the public. The MARS in name stands for Machine Learning, Automation, Robotics and Space. The main issue discussed at the conference was how to make high-end technologies within AI, ML and automation accessible and comprehensive for the everyone. We go through the key highlights of the conference in each of the areas below.
Machine Learning – This is a very fast pace of development in voice assistance. The more users, the higher the rate of improvement, which means that we will see much more of this in the coming years. Amazon’s service Alexa Conversation is a step to achieve a more natural dialogue with the user. Alexa can combine several different skills such as understanding that if I am going to the cinema, I might also be interested in finding a good restaurant nearby and reminding me of booking a taxi home.
Automation – Within automation it was Amazon’s Prime Delivery Drones which stole the show, Amazon, said they will start delivering packages directly to their customers within a couple of months. They also showcased a new drone that will be able to lift, and land vertically, but also fly horizontally in an economic manner so that the reach can be more satisfying. The drone is developed based on the same security requirements as aircrafts, because that is what the customers expect from Amazon.
Robotics – Perhaps the highlight in this area was Disney Research’s stunt/acrobatic robots which are capable of landing backflips, rolls and twists with amazing precision. Though autonomous stunt robots will allow for a greater degree of safety on a Hollywood set, the technology is far from gracing the silver screen anytime soon though. Also present at the conference were Boston Dynamics which showed off their latest iteration of Spot which they claim should go on sale sometime this year. They also showcased telerobotic hands that let the human operator “feel” what the robot hands are touching.
Space: Space exploration was the key theme here during Jeff Bezos’s Q&A session around the topic, but he didn’t expect this to occur within his lifetime. The crux of his view is that one day heavy industry may need to be moved to space while Earth remained our residence.