Thursday 12 December 2019

Briefs: Irish-based car-tracking company to add 75 jobs

The interior view of a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S P90D, a model with some autopilot features
The interior view of a Tesla Motors Inc. Model S P90D, a model with some autopilot features

The car-tracking company Fleetmatics says that it intends to add up to 75 new research and development jobs at its global headquarters in Tallaght by 2018. The company says that this would bring its total employee headcount in Ireland to over 200.

The publicly-listed company, which is best known for GPS systems used to monitor fleet vehicles, employs over 1,200 people around the world. It says that it has 737,000 vehicles under subscription and 37,000 customers in the North America, Europe and Australia.

The company reported total revenue of $284.8m in 2015, a 23pc increase on 2014's figures. The company's expansion plans involve a new building in Tallaght to house its operations staff and engineers.

Dublin chip company signs VR deal with Lenovo

The Dublin-based chip design company Movidius has announced a deal with Chinese computer giant Lenovo. The "strategic partnership" will see the Irish company's low-power chips used in Lenovo's upcoming virtual reality and mobile products. Movidius's Myriad 2 is an ultra-low power chip designed specifically for handling vision-based tasks such as head tracking, gesture recognition, and blending multiple video streams into interactive VR video.

"Our technology was built to maximize machine vision performance in a sub-1 Watt power budget." said Remi El-Ouazzane, chief executive of Movidius.

"In selecting Myriad 2 for their VR products, Lenovo is building devices designed from the ground-up for VR. We're very much looking forward to these no-compromise devices that will push VR adoption into the mainstream."

The first Lenovo products featuring Myriad 2 are expected in 2nd half 2016. "Lenovo has a long tradition of bringing innovative products to the market," said Lenovo's Shanghai research and technology group manager, Li Xiang. "Myriad 2 is unique in its ability to deliver the kind of vision compute performance we need for our next generation VR products. We can build the products we want, without compromising on cost, size, performance or battery life."

End of the road for taxis, warns tech professor

A Limerick professor says that robots will "take over" many traditional occupations while offering "new job opportunities". Professor Mike Hinchey, director of the Irish Software Research Centre Lero, said that taxi drivers will among the biggest casualties.

"Major advances in driverless cars, inset, mean that today's kids are unlikely to find work as taxi drivers," he said in advance of a presentation of the organisation's 2015 internal annual report to Science Foundation Ireland. "But other types of jobs will be created."

Some experts have warned that the rise of robots could lead to unemployment rates of more than 50pc over the next 30 years, said Professor Hinchey. "A big challenge is to replace traditional manufacturing and manual labour jobs and we must look to educate people differently in order to prepare today's schoolchildren for the new world of work."

The professor also said that a real threat from robots is a global arms race in the development of autonomous weapons that use Artificial Intelligence. "There should be a worldwide ban on offensive autonomous weapons that are beyond meaningful human control," he said.

An expansion of Lero was formally launched last November in a €46.4 million investment, €32.6m of which comes from the state-subsidised Science Foundation Ireland. Lero also attracted €13.8m of private industry funds.

European Union backs Irish-led research teams

Three Irish-led research projects have been awarded grants from the EU's research and innovation programme, Horizon 2020. Under the grant scheme, Limerick-based company MAC will receive funding of €1,594,281. MAC leads a group of European companies in a project called SmartGrid Active Distribution Management System to investigate renewable energy sources in the electricity grid.

A Dublin company, OpenHydro Group, will get €2,996,327 under the scheme. Its project looks at ways to make wave energy as cheap as wind energy. Meanwhile, the Galway company ÉireComposites will be getting a total of €2,731,700 in funding under the scheme. It is in the final stages of a project on "light, cost-effective, carbon glass hybrid blades" for wind turbines. The Irish companies awarded the grants are three of 16 businesses to have come through a process involving 263 projects and 1057 companies from across the EU, pitching for the funds.

Local company claims eye-tracking breakthrough

An Irish company claims to have introduced the world's first eye-tracking technology for 'process analysis and enhancement' in the logistics sector. Heavey RF, which has offices in Dublin and Cork, says that it has adapted the eye tracking technology for deliveries, warehousing and logistics services.

The technology involves a head-mounted monitor and video unit that evaluates eye movement, "capturing first person perspective to give a true measurement of cognitive engagement". The company says that the eye-tracking system can be worn by a picker in a warehouse as they carry out their work to record, in real time, workloads, processes, and responses to situations.

It says that it already has a customer using the technology, Johnston Logistics. "We were a little sceptical at first but quickly realised areas of our processes that could be refined due to the wealth of data presented from the eye tracking analysis," said Carl Johnston, head of IT at Johnston Logistics.

"This included physical processes as well as potential improvements in health and safety."

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