One of the most useful things about robots is that they don’t feel pain. Because of this, we have no problem putting them to work in dangerous environments or having them perform tasks that range between slightly unpleasant and definitely fatal to a human. And yet, a pair of German researchers believes that, in some cases, feeling and reacting to pain might be a good capability for robots to have.
The researchers, from Leibniz University of Hannover, are developing an “artificial robot nervous system to teach robots how to feel pain” and quickly respond in order to avoid potential damage to their motors, gears, and electronics. They described the project last week at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) in Stockholm, Sweden, and we were there to ask them what in the name of Asimov they were thinking when they came up with this concept.
Why is it a good idea for robots to feel pain? The same reason why it’s a good idea for humans to feel pain, said Johannes Kuehn, one of the researchers. “Pain is a system that protects us,” he told us. “When we evade from the source of pain, it helps us not get hurt.” Humans that don’t have the ability to feel pain get injured far more often, because their bodies don’t instinctively react to things that hurt them.
Kuehn, who worked on the project with Professor Sami Haddadin, one of the world’s foremost experts in physical human-robot interaction and safety, argues that by protecting robots from damage, their system will be protecting humans as well. That’s because a growing number of robots will be operating in close proximity to human workers, and undetected damages in robotic equipment can lead to accidents. Kuehn and Haddadin reasoned that, if our biological mechanisms to sense and respond to pain are so effective, why not devise a bio-inspired robot controller that mimics those mechanisms? Such a controller would reflexively react to protect the robot from potentially damaging interactions.
The idea of a reflex controller for robots isn’t a new one. Torsten Kroeger and colleagues at Stanford and the University of Rome–La Sapienza developed one half a decade ago that helped a robot arm avoid collisions with people:
As you can see, this controller does collision avoidance, and it’s very concerned with not running into that human, but not at all concerned with its own safety, except as a byproduct. Indeed, an artificial robot nervous system designed to feel pain and react to it is completely different, and based on how humans deal with painful tactile sensations, as Kuehn and Haddadin write in their ICRA paper:
A robot needs to be able to detect and classify unforeseen physical states and disturbances, rate the potential damage they may cause to it, and initiate appropriate countermeasures, i.e., reflexes. In order to tackle this demanding requirement, the human antetype shall serve as our inspiration, meaning that human pain-reflex movements are used for designing according robot pain sensation models and reaction controls. We focus on the formalization of robot pain, based on insights from human pain research, as an interpretation of tactile sensation.
The Latest on: Robots feel pain
via Google News
The Latest on: Robots feel pain
- How robots can help consume the cost of tariffs on June 13, 2019 at 10:46 am
Although one in four Americans worry about losing their jobs to machines, the truth is robots will help more than they hurt (Reference 2 ... Three out of four Gen X and Gen Z employees report feeling ... […]
- Inside Amazon's robot conference, which started as a Jeff Bezos private party on June 11, 2019 at 1:48 pm
Stroke the finger tip of the robot's hands and the human will feel that stroke in the haptic gloves ... Had he missed and fallen, he could have been seriously hurt. Take a look: It indicates an ... […]
- Orthopedic Surgical Robots Market to Surpass US$ 4,100 Million by 2029 - PMR on June 11, 2019 at 5:35 am
Orthopedic surgical robots fulfil the need for automation while performing a surgery and have various advantages such as less post-operative pain, decreased blood loss ... to replicate the sensation ... […]
- You Can Talk About Robot Fight Club on June 11, 2019 at 3:00 am
You can feel the action at a robot fight, and not in a metaphorical way ... “In BattleBots, you can get that same feel and no one is going to get hurt.” None of the contestants get hurt, but none of ... […]
- Caroline Flack ‘not a robot’ and feels for couples on Love Island on June 5, 2019 at 10:24 am
Caroline Flack has said she is “not a robot” and sympathises with Love Island contestants going through relationship turmoil. The host of the ITV reality show revealed she has cried while watching the ... […]
- These $10 Sensor-Packed Gloves Could Give Robots a Sense of Touch on June 3, 2019 at 7:00 am
“As we touch objects, we feel around and realize what they are. Robots don’t have that rich feedback ... and for prosthetic patients the tactile feedback could also help reduce phantom-limb pain and ... […]
- No pain no gain: Hurting robots so they can save themselves on May 26, 2019 at 5:00 pm
their insensitivity to pain and danger is indeed what can make them so useful. Flipping this on its head and making them feel as we do seems counter-productive, but scientists from Leibniz University ... […]
- Prince William says losing his mother Diana was ‘a pain like no other pain’ on May 18, 2019 at 1:31 am
William said the characteristic ‘British stiff upper lip thing’ had its place when times were hard, but people also needed ‘to relax a little bit and be able to talk about our emotions because we’re ... […]
- Prince William speaks of the 'pain like no other pain' of bereavement, and the British stiff upper lip on May 17, 2019 at 5:01 pm
The British public should rethink the default emotional response of a “stiff upper lip”, the Duke of Cambridge has suggested, as he says: “We are not robots ... I can resonate closely to that, you ... […]
- Do robots feel pain? on May 9, 2019 at 5:00 pm
A research team from Carnegie Mellon University has developed a set of robots that encourage users to express their negative emotions by physically taking them out on the bots. The idea is that ... […]
via Bing News