Watch: Robots Learn to Push Heavy Objects by Putting Their Backs Into It

Tuesday, 02 June 2015 - 4:20PM
Robotics
Tuesday, 02 June 2015 - 4:20PM
Watch: Robots Learn to Push Heavy Objects by Putting Their Backs Into It
Scientists have rapidly been coming to the conclusion that robots are more likely to reach the intelligence singularity than they are to develop the dexterity of a human body. So robot bodies are still relatively primitive, but they're still taking major steps forward, notably MIT's "Cheetah" robot, which recently learned to autonomously jump over obstacles. Now, researchers from University of Tokyo's JSK Laboratory have announced that their robots can independently push objects of increasing size and weight, putting their whole body weight against the object if necessary, just like a human.



This type of task, which lead authors Masayuki Inaba and Kei Okada call "whole-body pushing manipulation with contact posture planning," is second nature to a human, but is actually quite complicated for a robot. The robot needs to try out a method, determine whether the force it's exerting on the object is insufficient, and then adjust its position and method accordingly in order to exert more force for heavier objects.

Watch: Robots Learn to Push Heavy Objects by Putting Their Backs Into It

[Credit: University of Tokyo/JSK Laboratory]



In the video, the robot, called an HRP-2, determines several different positions that exert differing amounts of force, and if its sensors pick up that the object is still stationary, then it will autonomously choose a new position until one is successful:

Watch: Robots Learn to Push Heavy Objects by Putting Their Backs Into It

The researchers stated that they plan to use this research to "apply the proposed method to other tasks with whole-body contact," although they don't specify what those tasks would be. Quarterback of a football team, perhaps?

Via IEEE Spectrum.
Science
Technology
Robotics

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