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10 Bits: The Data News Hotlist

by Morgan Stevens

This week’s list of top data news highlights covers April 1, 2023 to April 7, 2023 and includes articles on launching an autonomous public transportation service and tracking data on infrastructure projects.

1. Arranging Travel
Expedia has added a chatbot powered by ChatGPT to its app. Travelers can use the chatbot to ask questions about potential trips, such as destinations, flights, and hotels, and directly book some reservations.

2. Filming Deep Sea Fish
An international team of researchers has set a new record for the deepest fish ever recorded by capturing footage of a snailfish swimming over 27,000 feet below the surface of the ocean. The team used an autonomous robot with a camera to film the fish.

3. Dribbling Soccer Balls
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have built a robot, known as DribbleBot, that can dribble a soccer ball across different terrains, including sand, gravel, mud, and snow. DribbleBot has sensors and a camera that collect data on its surrounding environment and an AI system that uses the data to direct its legs. The team trained the system by simulating 4,000 versions of DribbleBot dribbling a ball.

4. Driving Buses
Stagecoach, a transportation provider in the United Kingdom, has announced plans to deploy five autonomous buses in Edinburgh. The buses will initially transport passengers along a 14-mile route in mixed traffic in the city. According to the U.K. government, the buses will be part of the first full-size, self-driving public bus service in the world.

5. Segmenting Images
Meta has created an AI system that can identify and differentiate between individual objects in images and videos, regardless of prior training on each object. Users can select an object in images or videos by submitting a text prompt describing the object or clicking on it.

6. Identifying Objects
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created a robotic hand that can identify objects after touching them once. The hand has sensors that contain a camera and a device that emits light when it comes into contact with an object, as well as an AI system that uses the data from the sensors to identify objects.

7. Updating Search Engines
Google has announced plans to add AI-powered chat features to its search engine. The new search engine will enable users to search for results in a more conversational manner and ask follow-up questions on their searches.

8. Tracking Infrastructure Investments
Louisiana has launched a dashboard to track data on infrastructure projects that received support from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Residents can use the dashboard to access information on projects, including their location, department, funding program, the relevant federal agency, legislative districts, and whether the surrounding area is disadvantaged, partially disadvantaged, or not disadvantaged.

9. Predicting Firearm Homicides
Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have created a machine learning model that can predict weekly and annual firearm homicides in the United States. The team trained the model with firearm-related data from Google and YouTube search trends, emergency department visits, emergency medical service (EMS) calls, and National Domestic Violence Hotline contacts. In tests, the model predicted the number of firearm homicides in 2019 with over 99 percent accuracy.

10. Engaging Baseball Fans
ARound, a U.S.-based augmented reality company, has partnered with the Kansas City Royals, a U.S. Major League Baseball team, to engage fans with augmented reality features during games. Fans can point ARound’s app to the field to play games, access player and game statistics, and view graphics, such as a fire-breathing dragon.

Image credit: Flickr user Payton Chung

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