Robots already do various tasks that human beings are known to do, but some things they can not emulate. How to pick up items with your hands, for example. Now a group of scientists are using artificial intelligence to give robots the power to hold an object.
The company in question is called Embodied Intelligence and is made up of researchers from Open AI, an artificial intelligence laboratory at the University of Berkeley, USA, which received funding from Elon Musk.
Currently, for a robot to pick up an object with its hands it needs to be programmed for it: its creators write codes and test until the machine can pick up an object in a specific place. But if it’s somewhere else, or a few inches to the left of it, it’s very likely that the robot will not be able to hold the object.
The Embodied Intelligence researchers’ study attempts to address this. They initially tried to use a method called “reinforced learning” that teaches robots using temptation and error.
Instead of creating codes that teach the robot exactly where the object is going to be and what movement it needs to do to handle it, the method does not explicitly explain how the robot should do it but encourages the machine to try on its own. But this method is also not ideal and may take too long to work.
Thus, scientists are using a method called imitation learning in which robots observe humans performing tasks and try to copy. The robot does not mimic the person’s movements, but can define more or less what to do only from observation. “We can teach a variety of skills in less than thirty minutes of demonstration,” explained Peter Chen, CEO of Embodied Intelligence, in an interview with The Verge.
“It’s not just teaching the robot a fixed trajectory. It’s teaching you to recognize where the ball is, pick up the ball, and put it in one place – in different settings,” he continued.
The study still takes a long time to become a robot that can actually take objects on its own, but researchers already know where they can be used: on assembly lines in factories, and can be adapted to whatever the need for that factory.