Introduction to the Special Issue on Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence (IAAI 2008)

By Goker, Mehmet H.; Haigh, Karen Zita | AI Magazine, Summer 2009 | Go to article overview

Introduction to the Special Issue on Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence (IAAI 2008)


Goker, Mehmet H., Haigh, Karen Zita, AI Magazine


Your vacuum cleaner roams around your home at night. Your rice cooker, toaster, and washing machine have their own minds. Your car parks itself; its transmission adapts itself to your driving preferences, and it tells the dealership which parts it thinks it will need to have replaced three months from now. Your PDA knows your preferences and acts as your personal radio station, playing only music you like. You use a search engine that is capable of looking though billions of documents with new documents being added every millisecond. Semiautonomous rovers are driving around on Mars. There is a virtual person on the phone, tirelessly trying to help you. You still cannot beat the AI in your kid's video game.

None of this technology is perfect and we certainly have a lot more to research and understand, but, in terms of intelligent applications, we already have accomplished a considerable amount and seem to be on the right track. While we have not achieved human-level intelligence in its entirety (and it is arguable whether we need it), we can argue that some of the applications we built have approached it in certain, very limited areas.

The goal of the Innovative Applications of Artificial Intelligence (IAAI) conference is to highlight new, innovative systems and application areas of AI technology and to point out the often-overlooked difficulties involved in deploying complex technology to end users. Those of us who have ventured out of the realm of pure research and tried to build applications to be used by our fellow humans realize that it takes a lot more than just brilliant algorithms to make an application survive in the real world. Each application that succeeds is worth celebrating, and the teams behind them are due wholehearted congratulations.

It is in this spirit that we bring you this special issue covering select applications from the IAAI conference held last year in Chicago. We think the articles address a broad range of very challenging issues and contain great lessons for fellow AI researchers and application developers.

The first article is by Chris Urmson and his colleagues from the Carnegie Mellon Tartan Racing team. They were the winners of the DARPA Urban Challenge in 2007. In this article, they describe the technology behind Boss (a modified 2007 Chevy Tahoe) and the impact of various design decisions on their performance at the Urban Challenge.

The second article by Seth Goldstein and his colleagues (also from Carnegie Mellon University) describes the concept of a rather innovative new material: claytronics. This is essentially the "stuff" science fiction is made of. Similar to the way audio and video are used for rendering sound and moving images over distances, pario--of which claytronics is a sample--is for remotely rendering arbitrary three-dimensional physical shapes. Claytronics implements large numbers of submillimeter-sized spherical robots that act in a coordinated fashion. The article describes the motivation, technology, and challenges; provides an analysis of the feasibility of the concept; and describes what has been achieved so far. …

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