Oct 23, 2020

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AI improves control of robot arms

More than one million American adults use wheelchairs fitted with robot arms to help them perform everyday tasks such as dressing, brushing their teeth, and eating. But the robotic devices now on the market can be hard to control. Removing a food container from a refrigerator or opening a cabinet door can take a long time. And using a robot to feed yourself is even harder because the task requires fine manipulation. A team of Stanford researchers has now developed a novel way to control assistive robotic arms that is both more intuitive and faster than existing approaches. In experiments, their robot controller allowed subjects to more […]Read full article >
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William Gould on Prop 22 and the deregulation of the gig economy

One of California’s many propositions up for consideration by voters this year is Proposition 22, which would classify app-based, “gig economy” drivers as independent contractors and not employees or agents—reversing California law. Here, Stanford Law Professor William Gould discusses the existing law, the proposition, and the consequences of a change. First, can you give us some history on the regulation of gig workers in California? In 2018 the California Supreme Court held in Dynamex Operations West, Inc. vs. Superior Court of Los Angeles that all workers, including gig workers, were presumptively employees, […]Read full article >
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Faculty Senate hears provost’s budget report

By Kathleen J. Sullivan In an update on the university’s budget, Provost Persis Drell told the Faculty Senate on Thursday that the conservative approach Stanford took to creating its 2020-21 Budget Plan – developed amid great uncertainty in the early months of the pandemic – has positioned the university for a strong recovery. Provost Persis Drell provided an update on the university’s finances during the Oct. 22 Faculty Senate meeting. (Image credit: Andrew Brodhead) Also at the Oct. 22 meeting, the senate unanimously approved a proposal to add exemptions and exceptions to Stanford’s policy setting a 100-unit […]Read full article >
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Stanford releases annual financial results for investment return, endowment

Stanford University today announced a 5.6 percent investment return, net of all external and internal costs and fees, for the university’s Merged Pool for the year ending June 30, 2020. The investment return translated to $1.6 billion of net investment gains for the year. The median college and university endowment returned 1.6 percent gross of internal costs, according to data tracked by Cambridge Associates. The value of the Merged Pool, the university’s principal investment vehicle for endowment, expendable funds and hospital reserves, rose to $30.3 billion as of June 30, 2020. “In a volatile year, disciplined adherence to policy asset […]Read full article >
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Future VR could employ new ultrahigh-res display

By expanding on existing designs for electrodes of ultra-thin solar panels, Stanford researchers and collaborators in Korea have developed a new architecture for OLED – organic light-emitting diode – displays that could enable televisions, smartphones and virtual or augmented reality devices with resolutions of up to 10,000 pixels per inch (PPI). (For comparison, the resolutions of new smartphones are around 400 to 500 PPI.) Stanford researchers have helped develop a new kind of OLED display with ultrahigh resolution. This display could be especially useful for virtual and augmented reality technologies because the high pixel […]Read full article >
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A day in the life of a SLAC machine maker

Franco credits his grandfather for passing down the maker genes: The elder Franco made everything he could in his own home and branded it “functional primitive” style. As a kid, the younger Franco was always building his own go-carts, and as an adult he has turned his three-bedroom, one-bath house into a six-bedroom, three-bathroom house, where he and his wife – KPIX CBS-5 traffic reporter and sports radio host Gianna Franco – live with their four children between the ages of 20 and 1. Somehow, Franco also finds time for music. The bass player has toured with the Bay Area band The Mother Truckers and continues to gig […]Read full article >