Facebook update AI Habitat simulator improving interactivity
Facebooks AI research department has announced Habitat 2.0, a next-generation simulation platform that lets AI researchers teach machines to navigate through photo-realistic 3D virtual environments and interact with objects just as they would in an actual kitchen, dining room, or other commonly used space.
The open-source Habitat simulator was first launched in 2019, giving AI researchers a better way to teach industrial robots how to interact safely and efficiently within the environment in which they’re designed to operate. Facebook’s AI team said at the time that it built the simulator because it’s far easier and more efficient than creating a physical environment in the real world to train robots.
Habitat 2.0 builds on their original open-source release of AI Habitat with even faster speeds as well as interactivity, so AI agents can easily perform the equivalent of many years of real-world actions, such as picking items up, opening, and closing drawers and doors, and much more.
“We believe Habitat 2.0 is the fastest publicly available simulator of its kind available to AI researchers.” researchers wrote in a blog.
Habitat 2.0 also includes a new fully interactive 3D data set of indoor spaces and new benchmarks for training virtual robots in these complex physics-enabled scenarios. With this new data set and platform, AI researchers can go beyond just building virtual agents in static 3D environments and move closer to creating robots that can easily and reliably perform useful tasks like stocking the fridge, loading the dishwasher, or fetching objects on command and returning them to their usual place.
Alongside Habitat 2.0, Facebook is releasing a dataset of 3D indoor scans co-created with Matterport. The Habitat-Matterport 3D Research Dataset (HM3D), is a collection of 1,000 Habitat-compatible scans made up of “accurately scaled” residential spaces such as apartments, multifamily housing, and single-family homes, as well as commercial spaces including office buildings and retail stores.
“Until now, this rich spatial data has been glaringly absent in the field, so HM3D has the potential to change the landscape of embodied AI and 3D computer vision,” said Dhruv Batra, Research Scientist at Facebook AI Research. “Our hope is that the 3D dataset brings researchers closer to building intelligent machines, to do for embodied AI what pioneers before us did for 2D computer vision and other areas of AI.”
“We are excited to collaborate with Facebook as we provide the academic and research communities access to this unique spatial dataset that is sure to impact how we work and live,” said Conway Chen, Vice President of Business Development and Alliances at Matterport. “With more than five million spaces captured with the Matterport platform, we are the only company that can offer a diverse library of high-resolution, data-rich digital twins of various styles, sizes, and complexities from across the world. HM3D can also be used more broadly by academia, and we can’t wait to see what innovations emerge.”
In the future, Habitat will seek to model living spaces in more places around the world, enabling more varied training that takes into account cultural- and region-specific layouts of furniture, types of furniture, and types of objects.
“Our experiments suggest that complex, multi-step tasks such as setting the table or taking out the trash are significantly challenging. Although we were able to train individual skills (pick, place, navigate, open drawer, etc) with large-scale model-free reinforcement learning to reasonable degrees of success, training a single agent that is able to accomplish all such skills and chain them without cascading errors remains an open challenge. We believe that HAB presents a research agenda for interactive embodied AI for years to come.”
ManageEngine Survey Finds Global AI Use Increase
ManageEngine, the enterprise IT management division of Zoho Corporation, has announced results from its recent market study, The 2021 Digital Readiness Survey, finding that 86% of organisations worldwide are using artificial intelligence (AI) more than they did two years ago. However, only 35% of the global respondents reported that their confidence in the technology has significantly increased.
The focus of the study was to understand technological changes in a post-COVID world, in areas such as remote work, security, business analytics, and AI. It was found that organisations worldwide mainly increased their use of AI to improve business analytics (63%), increase operational efficiency (62%) and enhance the customer experience (60%). While a majority of global respondents (94%) believe that AI will meet business expectations—and 65% stated AI had delivered measurable business results—some fears remain around the technology’s performance.
“The potential for AI to improve business efficiency and the customer experience was firmly on show through 2020, with AI handling everything from increased customer service volumes to oversight of self-service processes,” said Rajesh Ganesan, vice president at ManageEngine. “While AI is being handed more responsibility and is applied in more business-critical use cases, our research shows this is a double-edged sword and that more work is needed to embrace the technology and lift internal capability to ensure AI achieves its promise.”
Is business analytics the key to success?
The growing use of AI coincides with a broader trend of using analytics to improve the use of available data and the speed and accuracy of decision-making. In the post-pandemic era, profitability and competition are also driving organisations across the world to invest in business analytics platforms and capabilities.
Business analytics is an umbrella term for several types of analytics—descriptive, diagnostic, predictive and prescriptive.
The biggest user of business analytics by far is IT. An average of 63% of IT departments worldwide cited this in the survey. However, in North America, 67% of executives noted their use of business analytics, which was higher than their IT departments’ use (61%). Business areas such as marketing, sales, human resources, operations and R&D are also showing interest in business analytics but are well behind IT and executives on adoption and actual use.
Other key global findings of the survey
– A mighty 96% of organisations are planning to continue supporting remote workers for the next two years. Concerningly, the report also found that 84% of IT professionals believe that remote workers have increased their enterprise’s security risk.
– More than half (56%) of respondents stated that improving their security infrastructure is a key driver of adopting new technologies.
– 78% of organisations revealed that remote workers download software without obtaining approval from the IT department; this shadow IT mainly included mobile-specific applications (40%), online meeting tools (38%) and document sharing solutions (31%).
– 84% of respondents use more cloud services now than they did before the pandemic began. However, most respondents believe that improved security (56%), performance (52%) and reliability (51%) would increase their company’s confidence in cloud-based solutions.