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Mission objective: Exploring seas with teams of autonomous robots

  1. Research is being conducted to come up with algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI) techniques for a heterogeneous fleet of vehicles in aquatic environments.
  2. These new advancements will allow the robots cooperatively to coordinate what to do and minimize the risks in order to effectively learn to do a spatial process.
  3. Some people might be worried because robots and automation might take people’s jobs. However, you don’t need to worry about that because it is most likely that the robots will turn out to be a perfect colleague of a human.

With Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robot technologies, there’s widespread expectation that Qatar’s national priorities such as energy and environment can be achieved.

Gianni Di Caro, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, analyzes interaction and coordination issues in heterogeneous teams of autonomous robots.

            Gianni Di Caro, an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, studies methodologies for letting a heterogeneous fleet of vehicles acting in full autonomy when executing a mission in aquatic environments for a project, “Teams of Aquatic / Aerial Robots for Marine Environmental Monitoring (TARMEM)”. As an expert who has been researching to create mixed teams of humans and multi-robots, Di Caro works to create mixed teams of humans.

What does it mean? He wants to make a team that both humans and robots can interact and cooperate together in the context of mission execution, such as search and rescue operations.

So in this research, he seeks algorithms for navigation and joint network & mission aware dynamic planning. In order to demonstrate these algorithms, an aquatic robot called “Lutra Prop” will be used. If he successfully finishes the research, these technological advancements will be tremendous for unmanned water-surface robots, considering the abilities of currently operating ones.

Lutra Prop is an aquatic robot that Di Caro is using to demonstrate his findings.
Credit: Platypus LLC

To be specific, current aquatic robots are only able to perform a task lasting a maximum of two days and they require human intervention. However, with the algorithms Di Caro is working on, the weaknesses will be translated into positives. The period of operation will be longer than before since Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) will be carried by aquatic robots, where UAVs can be recharged and be operational again. Moreover, robots will no longer require manual intervention. The robots will be able to cooperate with other fellow robots in a group, just like humans in a team are assisting each other. They will share information to coordinate and cooperate in common mission execution, obtaining effective synergies even in harsh aquatic environments. This project will not only increase the capabilities of aquatic robots but also allow humans to have more complete and exact data.          

Other than overcoming the limitations of current robots, the possibilities of this unmanned robots are striking. It can be further used in other fields as well, like marine border security and oil and gas industry in Qatar. However, Di Caro explains that there are still issues that the project has to solve.

“One of the restrictions we have is getting authorizations from many levels,” Di Caro said, “I understand this but I realized that things are more complicated than I expected.”  

As Di Caro described, there are still legal issues that the project has to go through. It is true that the there is no guarantee that it will be successful, but it can be a game-changer that can shift power not only in the ocean exploration industry, but also in other industries such as the security and oil industry in Qatar. Also, it is possible to expect a better environment where robots and humans cooperate and work in harmony for a common mission, even in dangerous situations.

All Di Caro’s research, including this one, will increase the productivity of human labors, like factory workers became more productive in 18th century. However, some people might be worried because automation can take people’s jobs, like many people had lost their job in 18th century as well.

It is true that automation and robots will continue to grow in use and it is hard to keep proper numbers for robots and humans at the same time. However, as it can be seen in this particular case, the advantages of using robots are enormous. Just like Di Caro studies, robots and AI will eventually create harmonious environments where they can assist and aid humans. Robots might turn out to be a perfect colleague of a human and the use of AI and robots will give people the opportunity to do their jobs more easily, rather than entirely replacing them.

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To invest, or not to: That is the question for Cryptocurrency investors

Interesting facts about Bitcoin
  1. Cryptocurrency is a controversial issue that some people see it as a lottery ticket while some people consider it as an investment.
  2. Some countries, such as Qatar, have banned Cryptocurrency-related activities; some experts warn the possibility of misuse and crime.
  3. Clear and safe investment plans are needed to protect one’s assets.

Some people see Cryptocurrency as an investment, while some people often compare it with gambling. Is Cryptocurrency another period of Tulip mania or is it a future digital currency of the world?

Before James Lee made 17 million US dollars by investing in Cryptocurrencies, he was a typical computer science student who likes to design various applications and programs. Just like other students at his age, he likes to read economic articles, finding opportunities to invest money in innovative ideas during his spare time.

He heard of Cryptocurrency while interning at an economics research center in 2017 and the decision to invest in Cryptocurrency changed his whole life. At the beginning, he barely knew what it is. However, as he saw a promising opportunity in cryptocurrency, he started designing a program that predicts the prices of various cryptocurrencies at different exchange markets.

After he invested money with the price prediction program and had made profits around 17 million US dollars in two years, James was not the same person he used to be in the past. Cryptocurrency allowed him to become a millionaire, from a student who used to get an allowance from his parents.

With the money that he made, he now lives in regal splendor. He lives in a luxurious condo that has the most spectacular views imaginable. He drives Audi that costs 120 thousand Qatari riyals and wears premium luxury clothes that an ordinary student or salaryman would never normally see or even imagine.

However, he stopped investing in cryptocurrency even though he could make much more money. He explained that it is still possible to make money out cryptocurrency but the value of Cryptocurrency fluctuates too much and it became more dangerous than ever.

“I do think that there are actually chances that you can make profit out of it,” Lee said, “however, since there are many big hedge fund companies and huge investors after the boom of Cryptocurrency in 2017, there is nothing you can do as an individual.”

In any case, the purpose of this digital asset was to perform internet-based financial transactions. However, in 2017 when the prices of various digital coins were significantly decreased, people recognized it as a bubble, just like tulips in 17th century.

Interesting facts about Tulip mania

In 17th century Holland, Tulips were considered as an investment that the price of tulips were significantly higher than other kinds of flowers. For instance, a bulb of Semper Augustus, one of the most valuable tulips, could afford a whole Dutch family’s living for a while. However, since Tulip itself was not a valuable commodity, the price went drastically down, resulting enormous losses for investors.  

In addition, some countries have banned the use of cryptocurrency because of the possibility that they can be used in crimes. For instance, Qatar has banned all the cryptocurrency related activities, although the country was regarded as the leader of the region.

Giovanni Bandi, the head of the asset management supervision team at the Qatar Financial Center Regulatory Authority, says that one of the reasons why Cryptocurrency got banned is because it can be used in money laundering.

“It is much easier to money laundering with Cryptocurrency,” Bandi said, “Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s recommendation is not to allow Cryptocurrencies unless they are extremely supervised.”

It is true that Cryptocurrency can be used in a crime. It is also true that its prices is still lower than its peak in 2017. However, it seems that the values of Cryptocurrencies are increasing again. According to Financial Times (FT), digital assets such as Bitcoin, Ethereum and Litecoin have risen again in 2019. Specifically, “Bitcoin” has risen 10% and can be still exchanged with actual currencies such as US dollars at a market.

Cryptocurrency is still a controversial issue that its market has imperfect security procedures and its system has fewer restrictions, compared to the stock market. Theoretically, one can still make profits out of Cryptocurrency. However, if you do not have a clear investment plan, you will be much likely to become a victim of another capitalistic bubble economy in the world.