Robots Learning and Moving Smoothly

Just wanted to talk about a couple really cool robots. First off, ASIMO. Honda's brainchild is smart little fella. He sees in 3D, can judge distances, direction and speed of multiple moving objects. He can recognize voices, faces and hand gestures, objects and terrain. He talks and he learns.

That last part is the part that has me most awestruck. Check out ASIMO's learning in this clip.

He learned the difference between a table and a chair! Holly crap. Like the guy in the video said, he isn't just recognizing objects, filing them away in a database and comparing new objects to ones he already "knows", he's learned some fundamental concept of a chair and judged that a table is different.

Did you see how they never named the chair and table like they did with the toy duck, "grandpa" and the mini cooper? All they told ASIMO to do was "learn what this flat thing is". So he couldn't just associate a word with a particular object, he had to think about what made this new object unique. I wonder though if "flat" was some sort of hint? Could that key word have helped ASIMO realize that a key feature of a chair is it's flatness? He must also have set some bounds on the size and shape of a seat and it's height off the floor because he could differentiated it from a table. I wonder if a big chair or a small table would confuse him? In any case, consider me very impressed.

This other one is a bit old but I still consider it one of the greatest examples of a robot moving as naturally as something alive. See Big Dog handle a bunch of different terrains, slopes, slipping on ice (1:24) and someone trying to kick it over (0:33).

Pretty freaking cool. Robots are learning better and better how to think like we do and how to move like we do. These are exciting times we live in.


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