World Artificial Intelligence Conference 2018 kicks off in Shanghai

By Qi Xijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/9/17 18:13:39

An AI-empowered era

Imagine one day you begin your morning with a cup of coffee made by a robot, order some fresh-cooked breakfast from an unmanned convenience store and commute to work on a bus driven by a computer. These may sound like scenes from a sci-fi film, but some have already come true, as presented at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference 2018, which kicked off at Shanghai's West Bund, Xuhui district, on Monday.

Under the theme "A New Era Empowered by Artificial Intelligence," the three-day conference offered a walk-in AI application experience presented by a number of industry-leading domestic and overseas enterprises, where visitors can immerse themselves in a visual and artistic feast of scientific achievements.

In the Smart Transportation Experience Zone, this Global Times reporter was able to experience China's first 8.5-meter unmanned electric bus designed by Shanghai Ebus Automotive Powertrain Co. When the bus was driven to a testing road, the driver pressed a button and the vehicle entered autonomous mode.

The bus was able to navigate on its own on the testing lane, react to the traffic lights, make turns and accelerate automatically while the human driver's hand remained off the driving wheel.

Based on its multi-sensors and GPS-precise positioning, the unmanned electric bus can monitor driving lanes, control the brakes and monitor rear and adjacent lanes with a side-back radar to change lanes, Li Fuxiang, general manager of the company, told the Global Times.

"It functions like a normal bus except that it can automatically recognize traffic lights, passengers and road signs," said Li.

Playing with Pongbot

Not far away from the smart Transportation Experience Zone was the Tank Shanghai Art Park, a display area dedicated to different AI application scenes such as finance, smart manufacturing, education, transportation, healthcare, retail and service. It was composed of five "tanks" once used for oil from the nearby Longhua helicopter airport.

  In one of the tanks, a table tennis match between a human player and a ping-pong robot, named Pongbot, was taking place. While the human player hit a ball, the robotic arm adjusted itself quickly to hit it back. After several rounds the human player was tied with Pongbot, co-developed by ­SIASUN and China Table Tennis College to train high-level table tennis players.

With a real-time vision system, the high-speed Pongbot can identify the path of an oncoming ball and react at a fast speed. Based on its massive data base and reinforced learning ability, Pongbot can continue "learning" from different human strategies accordingly, which means it improves with every match, Xu Nan, vice president of SIASUN, told the Global Times.

She added that Pongbot has already been put into use to train professional athletes and will be adapted for usage in schools, residential communities and even private homes in the future.

Robotic retail

In another tank, visitors are able to foresee the future of AI retailing. What will happen if you combine AI with a convenience store? X-24h Smart Convenience Store may give you the answer with its unmanned purchasing and food processing experience.

X-24h is composed of several parts: a storehouse, a food processing center, a food cabin and a drink bar. It can provide a variety of fresh-made food and beverages such as pizza, ice cream, baked bread and orange juice.

The raw materials are preserved in a storehouse and processed in the processing center before transferred by a mechanical arm to the food cabin, which is installed with a sensor to detect whether the food is consumed. Customers only need to scan a QR code with Alipay or WeChat to open the cabin, take their food and the money will be automatically deducted from their accounts.

All cooked food is kept warm in the food cabin and will be replaced every four hours, an employee surnamed Wang with the company told the Global Times. 

"In the future we may also upgrade the current app to allow customers to place orders in advance," said Wang, explaining that the first X-24h Smart Convenience Store opened at People's Square metro station in June, with more expected to open at local subways, railway stations and airports in the future.

 Beside the tanks, visitors can see a dense collection of AI applications made by a dozen leading tech companies under the themes of smart cities, intelligent chips and algorithms showcased at West Bund Art Center B.

A robot is on display at WAIC.

A child watches a model showcased at the conference.

People at the entrance of WAIC Photos: Yang Hui/GT



blog comments powered by Disqus