This MIT robot is better at picking up mugs than you

his robot can pick up and place down an object without having seen it before.

MIT
Robots may one day help you with chores like unloading the dishwasher or cleaning the kitchen.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) earlier this week said they’ve developed robots that can do many different pick-and-place tasks without having seen the objects they’re dealing with.

“Robots can pick almost anything up, but if it’s an object they haven’t seen before, they can’t actually put it down in any meaningful way,” said Russ Tedrake, a senior author of the project and MIT professor, in a blog post. “Understanding just a little bit more about the object — the location of a few key points — is enough to enable a wide range of useful manipulation tasks.”

CSAIL’s robots can estimate an object’s position and orientation by detecting a collection of “key points” or coordinates of an object. The key points can resonate with the system’s database and will tell the robots what to do with the object, whether it’s a mug or a shoe.

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Earlier this month, MIT made a little Mini Cheetah robot that can run, scoot sideways, hop and do backflips. MIT in January created a robot that uses vision and touch to remove Jenga blocks without toppling the tower.

The team hopes its robots will be able to accomplish more complex tasks in the next step, such as unloading the dishwasher or cleaning the kitchen counter, according to the blog post.

Columbia Executive, Exits Label Records Pop Promotion

Jon Borris, a 12-year veteran of Columbia Records, is exiting the Sony Music label, Variety has learned. According to a source, the senior VP of pop promotion, who joined the company in 2006 after positions at sister label Epic Records, is leaving as part of Columbia chief Ron Perry’s efforts to restructure the staff. Perry took over as Chairman in January.

Borris’ contract had expired, added the insider. His follows recent exits of Columbia A&R executive Mark Williams and EVP of Marketing Doneen Lombardi.

Another source tells Variety that Borris is in talks for a position handling pop radio promotion for Big Machine Label Group, home to Taylor Swift and Florida Georgia Line, though that is unconfirmed.

At Columbia, Borris supervised Top 40 and pop radio promotion across multiple regions. In his previous title of VP, he worked formats including pop, rhythm, urban and alternative. Among his credits are radio hits by Adele, Beyoncé, Pharrell Williams, John Legend, One Direction, Calvin Harris, John Mayer, Train and Foster The People.

The New York-based Borris started out as a senior director of pop promotion at Epic Records working hit songs by Shakira, Jennifer Lopez, and Incubus.

Radio has typically been a male-dominated field but there has been a slow shift towards parity in recent years, particularly in promotion, as Variety recently featured.

A rep for the label would not comment.

Five Reasons You Need a VPS

Like many people in tech, I run my own online server. I’m a bit old fashioned though – instead of paying a provider for my own Virtual Private Server (or VPS), I run a Xen server off my home Internet connection.

Although upgraded over time, my server is nearing three years old. It houses five HDDs, and a bunch of fans to keep it cool. The noise isn’t too bad, however it drives up my apartment temperature noticeably in summer.

At the time of purchase, vps was simply too expensive for personal use. Plus the management tools just weren’t what they are today. I don’t need scalability (multi-server) for my purposes, and in many ways having a VPS (especially the cheaper options) would have provided less flexibility over what my own server could offer.

Of course, that was then, and things have changed. Amazon now offers a micro instance with 613MB of RAM at no cost for a year (for new customers only), and $0.02 per hour (~$14.60/month) thereafter. If you’re not eligible for Amazon’s free VPS, vps windows for IDC Servers has an even lower barrier to entry at $0.015 per hour (~$10.95/month), albeit with only 256Mb of RAM.

A downside of the VPS options mentioned, is that the amount of RAM cannot easily be increased without increasing the price of these instances considerably. 256Mb of RAM for the IDC Servers option is enough for a few basic tasks, but is a limitation if you aren’t careful. To put this figure into perspective, many newer phones these days have 1Gb of RAM. Increasing the IDC Servers VPS instance size to one that uses 512Mb of RAM, also doubling the storage, doubles the price too. For the money ($262.80), you could easily get a Netbook with 1Gb of RAM and more storage – and presumably a similar level of CPU power.