CHICAGO: Researchers at the University of Michigan (UM) are teaching self-driving cars to recognize and predict pedestrian movements with greater precision by zeroing in on humans’ gait, body symmetry and foot placement.
According to a news released posted on UM’s website, the researchers captured video snippets of humans in motion in data collected by vehicles through cameras, LiDAR and GPS, and recreated them in 3D computer simulation.
And based on this, they’ve created a “biomechanically inspired recurrent neural network” that catalogs human movements, with which they can predict poses and future locations for one or several pedestrians up to about 50 yards from the vehicle, about the scale of a city intersection.
The results have shown that this new system improves upon a driverless vehicle’s capacity to recognize what’s most likely to happen next.
“The median translation error of our prediction was approximately 10 cm after one second and less than 80 cm after six seconds. All other comparison methods were up to 7 meters off,” said Matthew Johnson-Roberson, associate professor in UM’s Department of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering. “We’re better at figuring out where a person is going to be.”
To rein in the number of options for predicting the next movement, the researchers applied the physical constraints of the human body: human’s inability to fly or fastest possible speed on foot.
“Now, we’re training the system to recognize motion and making predictions of not just one single thing, whether it’s a stop sign or not, but where that pedestrian’s body will be at the next step and the next and the next,” said Johnson-Roberson.
Prior work in the area typically looked only at still images. It wasn’t really concerned with how people move in three dimensions, said Ram Vasudevan, UM assistant professor of mechanical engineering.
By utilizing video clips that run for several seconds, the UM system can study the first half of the snippet to make its predictions, and then verify the accuracy with the second half.
“We are open to diverse applications and exciting interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities, and we hope to create and contribute to a safer, healthier, and more efficient living environment,” said UM research engineer Xiaoxiao Du.
The study has been published online in IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters, and will appear in a forthcoming print edition.
Twitter rolls out ‘subscribe to conversations’ feature
CALIFORNIA: Twitter has rolled out a new tool allowing users to follow conversations without liking or replying to them.
A software engineer, Jane Manchung, discovered the prototype in the Android version of the app, Engadget reported. She tweeted about it and Twitter said in response that it was done to make the platform more conversational.
A button has been added to the top right corner of the thread, which notifies you when additional tweets happen. It would bring anonymity to the app.
A chronological timeline tool had been added to the Android version of the app and Twitter is also testing an “original tweeter” label, which shows the account that started a thread.
Sarah Haider, director of product management, said earlier this year that the company is making “some pretty big changes to the way conversations look and feel on Twitter” but they don’t want to introduce everything at once.
We can expect a lot more changes in the future, with the rapid new features rolling out every month.
Russia’s Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft docks to ISS
MOSCOW: The Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft carrying three crew members successfully docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday, Russia’s space corporation Roscosmos said.
Soyuz MS-12 docked with the Rassvet module at 04:01 Moscow time (0101 GMT), Roscosmos said in a press release.
A Soyuz-FG rocket carrying the spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 22:14 Moscow time (1914 GMT) on Thursday.
Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin and NASA astronaut Nick Hague, who survived unscathed an aborted launch in October 2018, as well as NASA astronaut Christina Koch, are on board the spacecraft.
Their mission will last 204 days. On March 29, Koch, together with another ISS crew member Anne McClain, who arrived at the ISS on Dec. 3 last year, will perform the first-ever all-female spacewalk.
Russian cosmonauts are scheduled to conduct a spacewalk in May.
3 astronauts on Soyuz craft successfully reach ISS
BAIKONUR (Kazakhstan): A Russian cosmonaut and two US astronauts arrived Friday at the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, five months after the failed launch of a rocket carrying two of the passengers.
NASA astronaut Nick Hague and his Russian colleague Alexey Ovchinin, who both survived a dramatically aborted Soyuz launch last year, were joined on the smoothly-executed trip by NASA astronaut Christina Koch. The rocket blasted off without incident from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and docked at the ISS less than six hours later, more than 400 kilometers (249 miles) above the Earth at 01:01 GMT, a few minutes ahead of schedule. During a live broadcast via high-definition cameras aboard the ISS, the mission commander Ovchinin reported that the mooring mechanism was engaged. A NASA commentator then confirmed the “capture.”
The liftoff was closely watched after the two men’s space journey was cut short in October when a technical problem with their Soyuz rocket triggered a launch abort two minutes into the flight. Both men escaped unharmed. It was the first such accident in Russia’s post-Soviet history and a major setback for its once-proud space industry. Speaking to reporters ahead of their six-month mission, Ovchinin said some faulty components in the launch vehicle had been found and replaced this week. “Yesterday they found some minor malfunctions,” the 47-year-old said on Wednesday. He insisted that the launch vehicle was in good shape. “There are no problems,” Ovchinin said. Hague, 43, said he was looking forward to the flight – his second attempt to get into space. “I’m 100 percent confident in the rocket and the spaceship,” he said. The October abort was caused by a sensor damaged during the rocket’s assembly.