Weeknotes 157;

Welcome to the new(s) update! I returned last week from my vacation with a little delay (driving an oldtimer for the road trip is a risk). Starting this week again with the weekly updates, noticeable news from last week, and interesting events. Welcome also to the new subscribers!

Getting back from vacation meant catching up with the running activities from the Cities of Things foundation and organization of the field lab as part of Amsterdam-Munich Creative Embassy cooperation. 11 October there will be an official launch in Munich and together with the launching consortium partners, we will start shaping the ideas for field lab projects around a Cities of Things Urban Food & Mobility community hub (a catchy name is on the todo-list :).

I also had different sessions with the new graduate students starting this semester. Three in total, one with PGGM on predictive knowledge specifically, one with WAAG on design with the public interest, and one with AMS-institute on safe routes in surveilled cities. To put it very shortly, will keep you updated.

ThingsCon yearly conference will have a distributed hybrid character this year and we will accelerate on the organization now. Our theme is on the website, more on the format, topics, and locations later. Save the date: 10 December.

I tried to follow some of ARS Electronica online but had some trouble finding my way in the program setup to be honest. I hope to do some on-demand talks. The Branch symposium was very nice, I only could watch a panel on solar punk. Check also this article.

The inaugural address of Alessandro Bozzon was also worth watching. I cannot find a link to the recording but might be added here later.

For this week you might be interested to check out the celebrating session of Sensemakers AMS on Wednesday. Looking for the recording of Alessandro’s lecture I find out that Amsterdam Data Science might have some interesting sessions on AI and the human in the loop this week. And I will check the Apple iPhone event of course. Curious how much metaverse there will be present (Facebook responded ahead with its Rayban Stories)… Last but not least: this is an important workshop on Embodied AI & Gender.

Ok, let’s check the news of last week.


07 – co-performance into human-nonhuman partnerships The latest monthly newsletter of Cities of Things dives into the relation of co-performance and the citythings. Trigger to dive into this topic is the article below.

Users Want Self-Driving Vehicles That Drive Like They Do, Sort ofAn interesting element to design trust in autonomous cars. It is a kind of co-performance concept to model the behavior of the self-driving to the characteristics of the driver, but also let the autonomy influence the style of the cooperation.

It will make the road less uniform for sure.

Autonomous vehicles to cheap spaceflights: How mobility experts think we will travel in 50 years | Euronews“Autonomous vehicles to cheap spaceflights: How mobility experts think we will travel in 50 years”

No surprise that the experts referred to in this article predicts changes in line with the companies they represent. But the combination of ideas is in line with common future sense: electric as the main energy carrier (whatever the source might be, hopefully sustainable), behavior change towards different perceptions of travel modalities. Etc

How Do Autonomous Vehicles “See” the World with Position Sensing? “Autonomous vehicles employ a collection of electronic sensors to keep them true to their intended pathways.”

Having our helpful AIs with a certain kind of consciousness is for autonomous vehicles starting linked to a sense of position.

iRobot’s new Roomba j7+ robot vacuum with AI, object avoidance, and storage “The new vacuum from iRobot uses “PrecisionVision Navigation” to spot hazards and avoid them in real-time as it cleans. It depends on a database of examples that the companies have been slowly building and using to enhance these capabilities in the product before releasing it into the world. This new AI is also used to identify certain areas of the home by the objects in each room, to help you specific areas you’d like cleaned.”

Robot vacuums are signposts of robots in our life. Chinese producers had already more AI vision features, it interesting to follow the level of predictions and making connections to general gathered knowledge. Including all potential problems sharing home data via these products.

Living with robots

Think Robot Dogs are Cool? This Company Has Made a Unicorn Robot to Give Rides to Kids | Beebom“A China-based electric vehicle company called Xpeng has developed an AI-based unicorn robot that can carry children on its back.”

Some thoughts that pop up. (1) Is this dogbot really so friendly looking as suggested? (2) Specialized dogbots might be a thing we will see more. (3) are these eyes the standard design language for Chinese artificial interactions? It looks a lot like the Nomi eyes from the Nio cars imho.

Sweetgreen, Spyce, and the Future of Robot Food“Do we want to eat food made by robots? Chain salad might be the perfect food to answer that question. Chain salad is neither bad nor good. It simply is. Whether it is made by a robot, or a person I never see because I ordered the salad on my phone and then picked it up from a shelf in the store, is largely irrelevant to the Sweetgreen Experience.”

It might indeed be a consequence of the highly formatted foodchains that is a lot easier to replace with robotic production. And I would think that the personal touch might be even more possible if the robots are working in co-performance with us…

Singapore has patrol robots now! This should be fine.“Singapore has started testing patrol robots that provide surveillance in pedestrian areas, working with the city-state’s police force.”

Speaking of edge cases. Singapore is infamous for its surveillance of everyday street behavior. I know from people that lived there and my own visit that there is a kind of chilling effect but it is still possible to cross some lines. What will this bring though?

New published patents show Dyson designs for stair-climbing and drawer-opening robots “Dyson is best known for its vacuum cleaners, but it’s branched into other areas in recent years. Two patent filings show a robot hand and a stair-climbing vacuum, but it’s not clear if these are products that will ever come to market.”

Stairs-crawling vacuums sound like a useful invention…

This chainless drive system could revolutionize e-bike designs  “The chainless Schaeffler Free Drive system works by converting the rider’s pedaling power into electrical energy via a small generator housed between the pedals. The electrical energy is then converted back to mechanical energy in the hub motor, with excess energy fed back into the battery.”

The difference with having just a gas handle at the steer is becoming is decreasing. How will this impact regulations on what is a bike and what is a scooter?

In cities…

Working with Brian Eno on design principles for streets | by Dan Hill | Dark Matter and Trojan Horses“Working with Brian Eno on design principles for streets. Bringing a cultural voice into an urban planning conversation that has become narrowly technical, and diversifying the thinking around what streets are about, and what cities are for.”

This still is on my list of longreads I missed during my vacation to read.

Paris speed limit falls to 30km/h “The mayor wants the French capital to become cleaner in the run-up to the 2024 Olympics.”

A significant development is happening in more cities and will stimulate the transition from cars to micro-mobility.

That completes this week’s newsletter. Back next week!

You can subscribe to the newsletter via Getrevue and get a full version including images and lay-out in your email box every Monday evening (CET).

Published by


I am a design director at Structural. I curate and organize ThingsCon Netherlands and I am chairman of the Cities of Things Foundation. Before I was innovation and strategy director at tech and innovation agency INFO, visiting researcher and lab director at the Delft University of Technology coordinating Cities of Things Delft Design Lab.