Robots Will Learn From Each Other

Tired of trying to train your robot to follow your every command? Never mind, soon they will teach each other.

A recent project from Brown University is working towards robots that can teach one another how to perform these kind of tasks. The machines will use an array of cameras and sensors to look at the object from a range of angles, and then share that learning and experience with others.

Whilst this will take a bit of time to go through the initial learning, once it has been done once, the team believe it will be very fast once it has been learned once.

The eventual aim is to ‘teach’ robots to pick up millions of different things. The robot itself was developed by the Boston based company Rethink Robotics, who were also behind a recent project via the University of Maryland that also used the YouTube based approach to learning.

In order to grasp each object, the Brown team modified the core algorithm within Baxter to optimize the process of practising various grips. This allowed it to successfully grasp each object around 75% more than with the original method.

Once a successful method has been found, it is encoded in a format and then shared with other robots online.

This reminds me of the talk between robots (TBR) feature discussed by Frederik Pohl in his 1954 short story The Midas Plague. In the story, Henry is a companion robot; these robots cooperate with each other, sharing information to better server their masters:

"Fine! Well, get started on the other things, then."

"Yes, sir," said Henry, and assumed the curious absent look of a robot talking on the TBR circuits - the Talk Between Robots radio - as it arranged the appointments for its master.

More recently, In the 2004 movie I, Robot, the advanced NS5 robots had a special feature: additional software and instructions could be downloaded wirelessly to individual robots. NS5's receiving a download show a red glow in the chest cavity.

(Middle NS5 Robot Gets A Download)

Humans keep on trying to help robots talk with each other:

Via Horizons Tracker.

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