Practise makes perfect – it is an adage that has helped humans become highly dexterous, and now it is an approach that is being applied to robots.
Computer scientists at the University are using the artificial intelligence (AI) techniques of automated planning and reinforcement learning to “train” a robot to find an object in a cluttered space, such as a warehouse shelf or in a fridge – and move it.
The aim is to develop robotic autonomy, so the machine can assess the unique circumstances presented in a task and find a solution – akin to a robot transferring skills and knowledge to a new problem.
The Leeds researchers are presenting their findings today at the International Conference on Intelligent Robotics and Systems in Macau, China. Their paper can be read here.
“ Robots aren’t very good at what humans do very well: being highly mobile and dexterous. Those physical skills have been hardwired into the human brain.”
The big challenge is that in a confined area, a robotic arm may not be able to grasp an object from above. Instead it has to plan a sequence of moves to reach the target object, perhaps by manipulating other items out of the way. The computer power needed to plan such a task is so great, the robot will often pause for several minutes. And when it does execute the move, it will often fail.
Developing the idea of practise makes perfect, the computer scientists at Leeds are bringing together two ideas from AI.
One is automated planning. The robot is able to “see” the problem through a vision system, in effect an image. Software in the robot’s operating system simulates the possible sequence of moves it could make to reach the target object.
But the simulations that have been “rehearsed” by the robot fail to capture the complexity of the real world and when they are implemented, the robot fails to execute the task, for example by knocking objects off a shelf.
The Leeds team have therefore combined planning with another AI technique called reinforcement learning.
Reinforcement learning involves the computer in a sequence of trial and error attempts – about 10,000 in total – to reach and move objects. Through these trial and error attempts, the robot “learns” which actions it has planned are more likely to end in success.
The computer undertakes the learning itself, starting off by randomly selecting a planned move that might work. But as the robot learns from trial and error, it becomes more adept at selecting those planned moves that have a greater chance of being successful.
Dr Matteo Leonetti, from the School of Computing, said: “Artificial intelligence is good at enabling robots to reason – for example, we have seen robots involved in games of chess with grandmasters.
“But robots aren’t very good at what humans do very well: being highly mobile and dexterous. Those physical skills have been hardwired into the human brain, the result of evolution and the way we practise and practise and practise.
“And that is an idea that we are applying to the next generation of robots.”
Wissam Bejjani, the PhD researcher who wrote the research paper, said the robot develops an ability to generalise, to apply what it has planned to a unique set of circumstances.
He added: “Our work is significant because it combines planning with reinforcement learning. A lot of research to try and develop this technology focuses on just one of those approaches.
“Our approach has been validated by results we have seen in the University’s robotics lab.
“With one problem, where the robot had to move a large apple, it first went to the left side of the apple to move away the clutter, before manipulating the apple.
“It did this without the clutter falling outside the boundary of the shelf.”
Dr Mehmet Dogar, Associate Professor in the School of Computing, was also involved in the study. He said the approach had speeded up the robot’s “thinking” time by a factor of ten – decisions that took 50 seconds now take five.
Learn more: Worker robots that learn from mistakes
The Latest on: Robotic autonomy
via Google News
The Latest on: Robotic autonomy
- Privacy Scare: How Robopets May Be Spying on Older Adults at Homeon March 21, 2020 at 6:57 am
I explore the impacts of technology on privacy, autonomy and well-being, as well as the effects of the human-animal bond ... ElliQ is always on, collecting data on the user that is transmitted to the ...
- Why this Bay Area autonomous freight trucking company is closingon March 20, 2020 at 6:52 am
The San Francisco autonomous trucking company saw its funding dry up, co-founder and CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmachersaid Thursday in a blog post. He not only outlined the demise of his startup but also ...
- Autonomous Solutions Inc. (ASI) and Phantom Auto Partner to Deploy Unmanned Yard Truckson March 19, 2020 at 10:33 pm
A new fully unmanned yard truck solution combines the expertise of four companies: Autonomous Solutions, Inc. (ASI), a world leader in vehicle automation; Phantom Auto, the leading provider of remote ...
- Driverless truck startup Starsky Robotics folds: CEO shares tough autonomy home truthson March 19, 2020 at 10:25 am
Driverless truck startup Starsky Robotics is shutting down, but not before sharing some cold hard truths about the autonomous driving industry. Founded in 2015, Starsky proposed a combination of ...
- Self-driving truck startup Starsky Robotics shutters operationson March 19, 2020 at 9:24 am
Starsky Robotics, the self-driving trucking company responsible for a number of autonomous ... In a blog post published Thursday, Seltz-Axmacher lays bare the substantial potholes on the road to ...
- Small robots practice scouting skills for future moon missionon March 19, 2020 at 7:17 am
In addition to larger wheels, each robot has an upgraded onboard computer with a wireless radio for communication ... this system demonstrates a capability that could robustly map parts of the Moon ...
- The Autonomous Wheelchair Could Soon be a Realityon March 18, 2020 at 2:33 am
Unfortunately, many of these machines can be difficult to control, especially for patients who have severe restrictions. This is where a mix of robotics, autonomy and artificial intelligence could ...
- Service Robot Market Analysis 2020-2026: Covering Recent Trend and Future Growth, Feasibility, Regional Outlook and Future Forecaston March 17, 2020 at 10:37 pm
Service Robot Market"2020 report presents a detailed analysis of the industry by size, growth rate, key players, regions, product types and applications. Service Robot Market report evaluates key ...
- The Army Will Soon Be Able to Command Robot Tanks With Artificial Intelligenceon March 17, 2020 at 12:18 pm
Various kinds of advanced autonomy, naturally, already exists ... “You can take risks you would never do with a manned platform. A robotic system with weapons does not need to account for crew ...
- AutonomouStuff Selects Qumulo to Deliver Fully-Integrated, End-to-End Autonomous Vehicle Research, Data Analytics and File Solutionson March 17, 2020 at 12:00 am
AutonomouStuff provides leading R&D platforms, products, software and engineering services to aid in the advancement of robotics and autonomy. AutonomouStuff’s customers value the convenience of ...
via Bing News