Weekly 'Pulse' Issue 68

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Autonomous Robot Bees

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Walmart has filed a patent for “pollination drones”; one of six they have filed for drone farming technologies. The bee drones will use cameras and sensors to navigate autonomously and pollinate crops.

Bee populations have been in rapid decline as a result of habitat disruption and widespread pesticide use. Adopting autonomous drone technology in agriculture could see major increases in agricultural efficiency and prevent major issues with global food production as the worlds largest natural pollinators continue to disappear.

Beyond environmental concerns, it's been suggested that Walmart's interest in drone farming technologies may be the first step in closing the loop in their produce supply chain whilst improving stock quality and reducing cost. 

Read more here: https://goo.gl/Hve8Xh

How could autonomous robots be used to counteract the negative impact humans have made on the environment? 


AI Solicits Vatican Secrets

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The Vatican archives consist of an estimated 85 kilometers of shelves holding the documents of past popes, some dating back to the 8th century. It is forbidden to publish any of the records; many of which are yet to be transcribed. As a result, many Vatican City secrets remain a mystery, even to its' own archivists.

However, the use of machine vision systems may help finally unearth the hidden secrets of the Vatican archives. It has been proposed to use machine vision systems to transcribe the texts, however the various writing styles of the manuscripts poses a major challenge. Donatella Firmani and colleagues from Roma Tre University are working on a vision system that divides each word into a series of strokes, which it then matches together like a jigsaw puzzle. The system is currently able to transcribe 65% of datasets perfectly, and has room to improve. 

Read more here: https://goo.gl/hhVb8T

How could vision systems be used to unearth other secrets hidden throughout history or in nature?


Human Food Production Can't Meat Demand

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With Earth’s population predicted to reach 8.1 billion people by 2025, there will be a growing presence of food shortages. Overfishing and loss of agricultural land will contribute to this problem – making it even more difficult to supply consumers with meat and fresh produce.

Fortunately, high-tech foods may be the answer. Conservative eaters may have to familiarise themselves with new alternatives like jellyfish chips, genetically engineered algae drinks and 3D printed food. Memphis Meats are creating lab-grown meats from animal cells. While UK-based startup Entocycle are supplying the animal feed market with grubs, with the long-term goal of introducing them into the human diet. Alternative food production methods like these could supply a growing demand for ethically sourced, sustainable produce.

Read more here: https://goo.gl/r5XcTv

How could a shift towards alternative food production methods help minimise climate change and the degradation of the natural environment?