I just spent the last few days rearranging my house, moving my mother, and then rearranging and cleaning my house some more. Naturally, that got me thinking about robots.
As it turns out, there are no robots out there that can do all of those things for us yet (boooo!), but there have been some great strides in the general direction, as well as in artificial intelligence in general. Check out some of the videos that I found:
Image published by Artur
Cute Household Robots from Tokyo
This video is in Japanese, but it is a nice showcase of Toshiba’s ApriPoco and Tokyo University’s robots. These are robots that can control your electronics with IR and voice commands, help you do the dishes, and help you get around. I’m not sure as to how capable these robots are of actually learning beyond what they are specifically programmed for, however. They could be more complicated software than actual AI — but they are still cool. And cute. It’s always good to be cute.
Domo is a robot out of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), created by Aaron Edsinger, and shows off some impressive voice recognition and visual tracking. It is only a torso, and is definitely a work in progress, but the most important thing about Domo is that it learns. Big, friendly eyes and sensors that respond to human touch aside, this robot can figure out the best place to grab something before it picks it up — which may sound easy, but is incredibly hard to program. And yes, it is named after the Styx song. Hit the link to enjoy that little piece of the 80’s for yourself.
STAIR, Cool Helicopter Tricks & the Future of Robotics
STAIR is short for STanford Artificial Intelligence Robot, created by roboticist Andrew Ng, who, after several years of trying to improve on robot AI through increasingly complex programming and mathematics, has now changed his angle to a more simplified approach. Apparently, the brain runs on a very simple learning program that neuroscience has proven to be the same for each of our senses. Ng and his team have put that concept to good use and have had some impressive results. STAIR is able to differentiate between different objects, find what it is looking for and pick it up, without a 3D model or any specific programming — all it needs is a little one on one instruction. Once it has been shown how, STAIR can figure out the rest on its own, even though every object is not exactly the same.
Before focusing on the machine learning aspects of STAIR, Ng’s robot was about 88% reliable in finding and picking up objects. Since the shift in thinking, however, accuracy has jumped up to 97% — which is pretty amazing! Ng and his team also used this technology on a small helicopter, making it autonomous. This helicopter was not only able fly itself, but, after observing a human doing the same, it taught itself how to do some crazy stunts as well, like flying upside down and other aerial acrobatics.
There is no YouTube video for STAIR, but you can find links to videos on this page. If you want to see the very cool helicopter, see the video below. The one following that is a presentation (about 16 minutes) by Andrew Ng talking about the future of robotics and showing how he came to the machine learning methodology he now uses, and why it works.
Trung Le’s android Aiko has been both regaled and called a hoax. Many people thought, from the initial videos, that the robot, which looks very much like a pretty Japanese woman, was a trick of computer graphics. To dispel this, Trung Le — who made Aiko in his basement — brought his android to the Ontario Science centre, so people could talk to it, poke it, and see that Aiko can both interact with humans and, apparently, feel. It’s all very impressive and interesting, really, if a little creepy. At least I find it creepy. I like my humans-looking-things to be actually human, if at all possible. Also, I’m not entirely sure why a robot needs to simulate anger and tell people to stop touching its breasts, but there are all kinds of weirdoes out there, I suppose. Androids are people too, right? They have the right to not be pawed at and otherwise groped.
I’m saddened that there are no robots out there yet that can help me avoid three days of exhausting work — but things are looking promising for the future, no? If you have any links to other robot videos, or happen to know more about any of the above (including pointing out any possible errors or updates), please post in the comments!