For example, a robot like this could end any needless
searches for a tv remote because it could systematically
scan an entire house for it. It could also perform inventory
searches in stores or check cars for problems.
Beyond Vision — Grasping
With an improved ability to interpret the environment
around it, a robot should then be able to interact with the
world. This is another area of research on the STAIR
robot. When a robot comes across a wine glass for
instance, it cannot merely extend its claw and clasp it
without carefully determining where it should pick
the glass up from without shattering it in the process.
A Glimpse of
The company Willow Garage (which works closely with
Stanford) makes a robot called the PR1 that has two arms and
can be controlled wirelessly. The result is a teleoperated robot
that is able to perform many of the tasks listed as objectives by
Stanford. Humans are still in control of it, but the advances in
hardware and motor control allow it to perform tasks that are
Stanford has videos of the robot grabbing beers from a
refrigerator, clearing a table, and tidying up a room, among
other things. You can view these videos at
http://personalrobotics.stanford.edu/. Most of the videos
are sped up, but you can see that the robots have the
hardware and software necessary to perform movements like
humans. With the addition of vision, robots could be sweeping,
vacuuming, and washing dishes.
While the PR1 is very impressive, Willow Garage is now
making the PR2 as a next step. Like the PR1, it uses the ROS
(Robot Operating System) to control everything from sensors to
motor control. There are several advantages to having this
system control the robot in that it can be treated much like a
computer, and have motors and sensors work in conjunction
just like sound and graphics work together on a PC.
The PR2 promises greater mobility along with easier
adaptation to automated performance. Universities like Cornell
and Stanford are getting PR2s to run their programs on and
test the latest developments in robotic hardware. Adding the
algorithms developed in the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab to this unique system will lead to exciting projects in the future.
Much of this new work will be completed using the unique possibilities of the ROS. Instead of loading on single programs
for a robot to carry out, the robotic platform is treated as a computer. This allows for better multitasking and the ability to
separate sensor input from motor control. The system is based on Linux and it can run Python and C++ programs. The
distribution of special libraries based on this operating system will speed up the sharing of advances in artificial intelligence.
Combining advances in hardware and software along with the STAIR platform and its more advanced versions will be a
leap forward in intelligent robots. The Stanford projects are sponsored by corporations like Google and Intel, as well as the
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). These groups share the same goal as the Stanford researchers to
enable robots to perform more tasks without human intervention.
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