Science

Robot Becomes Creative To Move Through Clutter

By Chandan Das , May 23, 2016 05:30 AM EDT
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Carnegie Mellon University has developed a new software that enables mobile robots to efficiently handle clutter, irrespective of whether it is behind a refrigerator or on the Moon's surface. In fact, clutter has been a major challenge for most robots.

It is interesting to note that the new software not only helped a robot named Home Exploring Robot Butler (HERB) to handle clutter efficiently but it also showed that ability of the robot in solving various problems.

The new study undertaken by a team headed by CMU associated professor of robotics Siddhartha Srinivasa was presented at the IEEE International Conference of Robotics and Automation in Sweden on Thursday, May 19, Computer World reported.

In fact, Jennifer King, Ph.D. student in robotics, and Marco Cognetti, a Ph.D. student at Rome's Sapienza University who worked for six months at Srinivas' laboratory, developed the rearrangement planner software in Srinivasa's lab. They also presented their findings at the IEEE conference in Stockholm, Sweden.

According to Srinivasa, it was found that HERB was utilizing its intelligence to exploit somewhat superhuman capabilities. He added that the robot's wrist has a 270-degree range, which led to behaviors that they did not expect. Occasionally, they were even blinded by their own anthropomorphism, Phys.org reported.

On one occasion, HERB also employed the crook of its arm to hold an object that needed to be moved, Srinivasa said, adding, "We never taught it that."

The report further stated that apart from HERB, the software was also experimented on NASA's KRex robot, which is being designed to go across the lunar surface. It was found that while HERB concentrated on clutter typically found in a home, KRex used the software to discover negotiable paths across a landscape filled with obstacles when pushing an object.

Most of the people are aware that robots are skilled at "pick-and-place" (P&P) processes. They pick up an object in a particular place and put it down at another specific place. According to Srinivasa, this ability of mobile robots has great applications in places where there is no clutter problem, like in factory production lines. However, robots encounter a different situation when they are on distant planets or when "helpmate" robots arrive in people's homes.

Watch some awesome robots below:

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