The Next Web

Sony’s new AI agent achieves superhuman Gran Turismo Sport scores

One of the best things about computers is that they can learn just as much from a simulation as they can from so-called ‘real world’ experiences. That means, given the proper simulator, we can teach AI to drive cars without ever putting a single human in danger. Just about every AI company trains their driverless vehicle algorithms using simulations. Until now, the simulators themselves weren’t all that interesting. They’re mostly just physics engines designed to be interpreted by a neural network. But Sony just unveiled the most popular autonomous driving simulator ever: Gran Turismo Sport. In case you’re not a gamer: this isn’t advanced software designed to train AIs, it’s a game. And not just any game but the latest in one of the most beloved racing simulation series in history Researchers from the University of Zurich and Sony AI Zurich recently published a pre-print paper showcasing the development of an autonomous agent designed to beat the best human players at the game. Per the team: Among racing games, Gran Turismo Sport (GTS) is known as a highly realistic driving simulation, modelling phenomena, such as the influence of tires’ temperature and a car’s current fuel level on traction. Therefore, similarly to real-world racing, the optimal trajectory (i.e., the trajectory leading to the fastest lap time) for a car in GTS depends not only on the geometry and properties of the track, but also on various (a priori unknown) physical characteristics and states of the car. Due to its similarity to real…Continue readingSony’s new AI agent achieves superhuman Gran Turismo Sport scores


Apple achieves a quarterly record amid iPhone launch uncertainty

It seems like Apple’s steady cadence of product releases in the midst of a pandemic has seriously paid off. The company released its Q3 2020 earnings this afternoon, in which it reported $59.7 billion in quarterly revenue and $11.25 billion in net income — that’s up significantly compared to Apple’s performance in the year-ago quarter. According to CEO Tim Cook, healthy growth across Apple’s product and services divisions and notable sales gains around the world over the past three months have been enough to make this a record-setting quarter.  “The record business results drove our active installed base of devices to an all-time high in all of our geographic segments and all major product categories,” said Apple CFO Luca Maestri in a statement. “We grew EPS by 18 percent and generated operating cash flow of $16.3 billion during the quarter, a June quarter record for both metrics.” Let’s take a closer look at the numbers: iPhone sales grew from $25.9 billion this time last year to just over $26.4 billion, thanks in part to the release of the iPhone SE and the lifting of some shelter-in-place orders, Cook said. iPads sales surged to $6.6 billion from just about $5 billion, and the company sold $7.1 billion worth of Macs — that’s an increase of around 20 percent. Apple’s computers are usually the products least prone to unusual sales spikes, and some believe this lift in revenue may be thanks to a shift to working away from traditional offices. (Or, maybe…Continue readingApple achieves a quarterly record amid iPhone launch uncertainty


Rocket startup Skyrora achieves a successful sub-orbital launch from Scottish island – TechCrunch

This past weekend was a busy one for rocket launches, including for new launch companies hoping to join the ranks of SpaceX and Rocket Lab as private, operational space launch providers. Edinburgh-based Skyrora achieved a significant milestone for its program, successfully launching its Skylark Nano rocket from an island off the coast of Scotland on Saturday. Skyrora has been developing its launch system with a goal of devouring affordable transportation for small payloads. The company has flown its Skylark Nano twice previously, including a first launch back in 2018, but this is the first time it has taken off from Shetland, a Scottish site that is among three proposed commercial spaceports to be located in Scotland. Skylark Nano is a development spacecraft that Skyrora created while it work son its Skylark-L and Skyrora XL orbital commercial launch vehicles. Nano doesn’t reach space – it flies to a height of around 6KM (roughly 20,000 feet) but it does help the company demonstrate its propulsion technologies, and also gather crucial information that helps it in developing its Skylark L suborbital commercial launch craft, as well as Skyrora XL, which will aim to serve customers with orbital payload needs. Skylark L is currently in development, and Skyrora recently achieved a successful full static test fire of that rocket. The goal is to begin launching commercially from a UK-based spaceport as early as 2022. Skyrora’s approach is also unique because it employs both additive manufacturing (3D printing) in construction of its vehicles, and uses…Continue readingRocket startup Skyrora achieves a successful sub-orbital launch from Scottish island – TechCrunch