Robots can learn from one another!

Robots can learn from one another!

Robots can teach each other new tricks! Thanks to RoboBrain – central repository of algorithms – behaviour learned by one robot can be transferred and learned by other robot. First experiment in this field was just closed at Cornell University, with a huge success.

How robots can learn from one another? First, researchers at Cornell University devised an online game, through which volunteers helped train a robot to perform a task with commands given in everyday language. By guiding the robot through a task, a volunteer trains a machine-learning algorithm so the robot can perform the task again. The algorithm is stored in RoboBrain – robots own knowledge database. Creating that kind of database is not easy – for example, robots have many different types of sensors and designs so the information has to be stored in a way that is useful for any kind of machine. The knowledge engine should be able to respond to a variety of different types of questions posed by robots in different ways. An important part of the project is also to apply knowledge learned in one situation to other situations.

Through RoboBrain, a type of research robot called PR2 at Cornell University,  had been taught to perform a number of a simple demonstration tasks, including picking up several mugs from a table and placing them on top of upturned bowls. Several hundred miles away, in a lab at Brown University, a different type of robot, called Baxter, has taken what PR2 had learned and used it to figure out how to perform the same task in a different setting. The most challenging part of the project was the fact, that Baxter and PR2 are physically completely different, so the commands needed to be transferred between the two platforms.

Experiment showed, that robots might share information in useful ways. That could reduce the need for meticulous reprogramming, and it could allow robots to adapt to quickly when faced with a new task or an unfamiliar setting. Basically it means that robots could gain new capabilities more quickly and adopt to the various situations by sharing knowledge by RoboBrain platform.


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