Basil Reification Robot

The Gundersons want a robot that can solve simple tasks, like asking the bartender for a beer and then bringing it back to the table. To do this, they think that robots must solve the kind of problem that humans do instinctively when dealing with the world.


(Basil robot with the Gundersons)

The Gundersons call this process "reification," a term they borrowed from philosophy, meaning to mistake an abstract idea for a real thing. They believed they could mathematically model it. If they could program a robot to symbolically identify objects by focusing on just a few key attributes, like basic shapes and sizes, and ignore everything else just as people do the machine would be much more adept at navigating its complex and dynamic world. Furthermore, since the robot would be able to recognize objects in his surroundings, the Gundersons could teach it basic attributes of these objects so it didn't see them as general obstacles or targets, but as abstract concepts like people and chairs abstract concepts that computers are good at reasoning about. Finally, such a robot would be able to store in its memory a basic symbolic mock-up of what these objects look like and where they're located so it wouldn't have to continuously rebuild its concept of the world every time it moved or interacted with it.

The key is to give the robot a way to identify and work with classes of objects like chairs. They tried the usual approaches - sketching 3D models of chairs and uploading them to Basil - and failed. Then, the light dawned.

The problem, they discovered, was the vagaries of the image captured by the sonars never looked like the perfectly designed chair model so, says Louise, they decided, "Why don't we just have the robot record what it sees?" They instructed him to take sonar image after sonar image of a wooden lab chair, capturing how it appeared from every angle. Then they spent days poring over the data, identifying basic characteristic patterns, like how the chair is waist high and always has legs and a straight back basic patterns Basil could use to determine whether a given object is a wooden chair.

Then, with the work finished this past June, they wheeled a chair in front of Basil and asked him what he saw. Using the chipper dialogue they'd programmed, he announced, "Ooh, I see a wooden chair."

So what does this mean for you, the average human? If this problem can be solved in general, it will be a huge step away from robots who can solve a few pre-programmed problems to robots able to accept commands and then figure out what to do on their own.

If this can be done, robots like Rosie from the Jetsons and Flexible Frank from Robert Heinlein's 1956 novel The Door Into Summer may be with us sooner rather than never.

Read this very enjoyable source article at Denver Westwood News: The Gundersons get us ready for Basil, the robot of our dreams.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/22/2008)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Robotics ")

Reachy Humanoid VR Teleoperation App
"I went to the control room where the three other men were manipulating their mechanical men...' - AG Stangland, 1929.

Unitree A1 Robot ala Black Mirror and Snow Crash
'The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power...' - Neal Stephenson, 1992.

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...' - Arthur C. Clarke, 1972.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.' - Greg Bear, 2015

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Las Vegas Tunnels To Have Autonomous Teslas
'...just a steady velvety whirr as the taxi sped along.'

TCL CSOT 17-Inch Printed OLED Scrolling Display
'..a wide sheet of clear material suddenly flared with light and swirling colour.'

Reachy Humanoid VR Teleoperation App
"I went to the control room where the three other men were manipulating their mechanical men...'

Unitree A1 Robot ala Black Mirror and Snow Crash
'The legs are long, curled way up to deliver power...'

DALL-E Makes Creative Images From Text
Okay, sf fans. If you could have some art created from a science fiction sentence, what sentence would you pick?

BladeBUG Robots Clean Massive Wind Turbine Blades
'There were the cleaners, with large padded feet, who were apparently polishing their way the whole length...'

Looms To Manually Weave Lunar Rover Wheels
It's fascinating to me how the Apollo program forced people to think outside their usual boxes.

IceBot Antarctic (Planetary?) Robotic Explorers Made Of Ice
'Some will combine in place to form more complicated structures, like excavators or centipedes.'

Glad 2020 Is Over
Maybe you missed one of these?

PEDOT Polymer Could Enhance Brain-Machine Interfaces
'the hair-fine wire going deep into Owen's brain, down into the pleasure center.'

Study: Robots Encourage Humans To Take Risks
Not exactly Three Laws compliant.

Kinetic Buildings And Psychotropic Houses
'There was a dim whirring, and the spheres tipped and began to rotate...'

Jupe Urban Escape Pods Have Tesla, SpaceX Roots
'The houses are prefabricated units... and they sell at the flat rate of five hundred dollars a room set up.'

Best Robot Dance Video Of 2020
'I can Mashed Potato... I can do the Twist.'

Vertical Farm In Singapore's Output Is 1.5 Tons Per Day
'A towering eighty-story structure like the office "In-and-Out" baskets stacked up to the sky.'

3D Printed 'Blisk' Manufactured In Orbit
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.