Adorable Humanoid Robot Learns to Walk Like a Human Child

Wednesday, 11 November 2015 - 2:23PM
Technology
Robotics
Wednesday, 11 November 2015 - 2:23PM
Adorable Humanoid Robot Learns to Walk Like a Human Child
Artificial intelligence is coming closer and closer to human intelligence every day, although it is still extremely difficult for physical robots to perform seemingly simple tasks. Humans have thousands of years of evolution on their side, while robots have trouble with basic motor functions, like autonomous walking. Now, researchers from UC Berkeley have attempted to bridge this gap by programming their new humanoid robot, Darwin, to learn to physically navigate the world just as a human child would.



Darwin's system consists of neural networks, or algorithms that imitate brain structure, that simulates different responses to situations Darwin is faced with. Just as a child learns from observing others, Darwin learns by running these simulations in its "mind," and as a result, can figure out how to perform tasks on its own. The programmers input a task, but after that, Darwin is completely autonomous. Sensors send data about the position of its limbs, the pressure on its feet, the load on its joints, etc. back to the neural networks, which run through the options in order to help Darwin make decisions.

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"The neural networks act as a map, a way to make decisions," team leader Igor Mordatch told Quartz. "The robot only knows where it is, where it wants to be, and the the neural networks output the actions it should take to keep achieving the action it wants to do."
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The humanoid structure of the robot is slightly unusual, as many engineers avoid bipedal robots because it is difficult for them to maintain their balance. But according to Mordatch, the robot helper of the future will likely look somewhat like a human, because we have built a society made for bipedal organisms to thrive.



Mordatch and his team are still refining the technology in order to allow Darwin to be completely independent, but they anticipate that it will be able to explore the Berkeley campus on its own starting in January. The researchers then aim to program the robot to complete more complex tasks, like recognizing and picking up objects, which could happen as early as June. In the future, Mordatch hopes that robots like Darwin will be able to autonomously explore areas where humans can't or shouldn't venture, like toxic waste facilities or other hazardous environments.
Science
Artificial Intelligence
Technology
Robotics

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