MIT Researchers Build Beer-Delivering Robots

Thursday, 13 August 2015 - 4:14PM
Robotics
Thursday, 13 August 2015 - 4:14PM
MIT Researchers Build Beer-Delivering Robots
When trying to build robots who work together, researchers often cite potential applications like rescue missions, or fire-fighting, trivial things like that. But now, researchers from MIT have successfully built robots who make a coordinated effort to do something really important: bring you a beer.



It's difficult enough to get one robot to bring you a beer, as it requires complex skills such as navigation, the ability to follow instructions, and grasping. The latter skill is particularly tricky, as small-scale, delicate physical tasks are much more difficult to replicate in robotics than they may appear, which is why MIT researchers are looking to give robots "human" reflexes

But it's a horse of an entirely different color to coordinate a multi-robot effort to consistently bring the owner beers, regardless of extenuating circumstances. Usually, when multiple robots are working together, they fail to complete their assigned tasks when they're unsure of the other robots' locations or current activities. But with MIT's new planning algorithm, the robot is capable of engaging in high-level reasoning to complete the task in many different situations.

Previous algorithms focused on explicitly accounting for different contingencies, or creating a policy tree. In other words, the robots attempted to plan out a course of action to complete their task with a series of if-then statements: "If this happens, then I will do this," and so on. But in this new study, the researchers used a finite state controller, which focuses on the results rather than the nitty gritty details of the execution. So in other words, no matter what happens, you are getting that beer.

Via IEEE Spectrum.
Science
Technology
Robotics

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