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Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931

In their classic 1931 story Revolt of the Machines, Golden Age writing duo Nat Schachner and Arthur Zagat described an amazing aid to humanity - a robot that dressed the decadent people of the future.

Sprawled thus they would lie, until the dressing machines we guided would lift them gently from their damasked couches, bathe them with warm and fragrant waters, clothe their soft carcasses in diaphanous, iridescent webs..
(Via dressing machines)

Modern day roboticists take this idea one step further, and use artificial intelligence to help robots learn how to help people by themselves.


(Georgia Tech dressing robot video)

The machine, a PR2, taught itself in one day, by analyzing nearly 11,000 simulated examples of a robot putting a gown onto a human arm. Some of those attempts were flawless. Others were spectacular failures — the simulated robot applied dangerous forces to the arm when the cloth would catch on the person’s hand or elbow.

From these examples, the PR2’s neural network learned to estimate the forces applied to the human. In a sense, the simulations allowed the robot to learn what it feels like to be the human receiving assistance.

“People learn new skills using trial and error. We gave the PR2 the same opportunity,” said Zackory Erickson, the lead Georgia Tech Ph.D. student on the research team. “Doing thousands of trials on a human would have been dangerous, let alone impossibly tedious. But in just one day, using simulations, the robot learned what a person may physically feel while getting dressed.”

The robot also learned to predict the consequences of moving the gown in different ways. Some motions made the gown taut, pulling hard against the person’s body. Other movements slid the gown smoothly along the person’s arm. The robot uses these predictions to select motions that comfortably dress the arm.

(Via Georgia Tech news.)

Anime fans may recall that the Roujin Z-1000 robot bed could also help people dress themselves.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 8/27/2018)

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