Welcome to What the Future.
On today's show, an insectoid robot inspired by desert ants demonstrates a new kind of robotic navigation, researchers at Purdue University have developed a new way to turn plastics into fuel And finally, we talk about how Deep Mind's new AlphaStar became the first artificial intelligence entity to master StarCraft 2.
Let's get into it.
Ant bots might sound like the title of a Sci Fi Channel original movie, but they're real.
And they're changing how robots get around.
[UNKNOWN] researchers drew inspiration from desert ants.
These resilient insects can't rely on pheromones to find their way home like other ant species can due to the extreme temperatures in their environment.
Instead, they rely on step counting and absorbing polarized light from the sky to orient them [UNKNOWN] These evolutionary miracles had led researchers to robotic innovations in the form of AntBot.
AntBot uses a new kind of optical compass made up of two pixels cover with polarize filters to orient itself.
The compass turns mechanically to be able to observe more light with less pixels drastically reducing production costs.
With this optical compass the Antbot can measure to its heading within 0.4 degrees of precision, even in cloudy weather.
These new navigation technologies have clear applications in the automobile and aviation industries, though Antbot's developers say the next step is to get it operating at night and over longer distances
Plastic, or permanent garbage, as I like to call it, is every all the time.
And the vast majority of it is never recycled.
The World Economic Forum has predicted that if we don't change how we use and dispose of plastic, there will be more plastic waste than fish in the world's oceans by the year 2050.
Thankfully, a team of researchers at Purdue University has a new solution for making use of our permanent garbage.
The process works for number two and number four type plastics.
These numbers can be found inside the little recycling triangle on the bottom of plastic goods.
The plastics are converted into pellets, which are then dissolved into a solution via exposure to heat and pressure.
In this state, the plastic materials could be converted into fuel or other useful product.
Researchers say that the clean fuels generated by this process could someday satisfy up to 4% of the demand for gasoline or diesel fuels.
When we last checked in with DeepMind Technologies, the artificial intelligence company owned by Google's Alphabet conglomerate It's AI had mastered classic board games.
And now, it's mastered Starcraft Two.
Starcraft Two emerged as a natural next step for D-Mines AI development since the game is played in real-time with imperfect information.
These new challenges required a new method of learning.
In Master Chess, Alpha Zero played itself To master StarCraft, AlphaStar played versions of itself.
A process DeepMind calls the AlphaStar League.
DeepMind brought in top tier StarCraft II player to challenge AlphaStar, and AlphaStar beat both of them five times in a row.
Though AlphaStar was eventually beaten during an exhibition game at Blizzard.
It was very stubborn, wasn't it?
It was like it didn't really want to leave.
Like the game was over for a long time.
As Deep Minds A.I learns to master more complex games, it gets better at long term planning, risk management, distribution of resources, and other problem solving skills.
Deep Minds eventual goal is to some day craft an A.I capable of solving the biggest problems facing our world today.
And mastering Starcraft 2 is another stepping stone in the right direction.
[SOUND] Thanks for watching.
I'm your host Jesse Ural, and I'll see you next time on What the Future.
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