May 31, 2013

What Does A Robot And A Spouse Have In Common?

This is a pretty cool advance in robotics. 

The robot doesn't just perform tasks, but it interacts with the person--sensing his movements and thereby anticipating his needs. 

According to Gizmag, this advanced robot was developed by Cornell's Personnel Robot Lab. 

As you can see in the video, the robot sees the person picking up a pot and moving towards the refrigerator, and the robot "understands" and goes to pull open the fridge door. 

In another example, the robot first without anticipating the person moving his coffee cup, pours coffee, spilling it on the table, but then with the special programming, the robot "sees" the person picking up the cup to drink and putting it down, and waits to pour until the cup is in stably in place. 

The anticipatory skills of the robot are based on 120 3-D videos in its database of people doing everyday tasks and extrapolating from it to what is occurring around it. 

The robot's predictions of the person's actions are refined as the person continues to move making the robot's response that much more in tune and precise with the person it is interacting with. 

The less far out in time that the robot has to predict, the more accurate it is: for 1 second out, it is 82% accurate; 3 seconds out, 71% accurate; and 10 seconds out, 57%. 

It is pretty incredible that we are able to program a robot to watch and sense similar to the way we do, and to react accordingly. 

The challenge will be as in the show Lost In Space, where the Robot is often confounded by illogical or unpredictable human behavior, and frequently, repeats "Does not compute." 

People are not programmed like computers--they experience conflicting and complex thoughts and emotions, behave in unpredictable or seemingly illogical ways, may have difficulty making up their minds in the first place, or may change their minds, even multiple times. 

Being a robot in a human world will by necessity mean being adaptable and understanding to changing human moods, whims and desires, and being able to respond quickly and appropriately--sort of like what being married is all about. ;-)

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