On National Selfie Day, Toyota Research Institute (TRI) showed how to best commemorate this special occassion by having its friendly, unnamed robot not only take photos of itself but also do chores around the house.
And some of these chores include wiping a transparent table or moving a drinking glass, which robots find difficult to distinguish or process. As TRI said in an Engadget report, "most robots are programmed to react to objects and geometry in front of them" and they could not differentiate an object it perceives and its reflection, leaving them confused with transparent and reflective surfaces.
Toyota Robot Trained to Perceive 3D Geometry While Detecting Objects, Surfaces
To overcome this problem, TRI said researchers developed a novel method to train robots in perceiving "the 3D geometry of the scene while also detecting objects and surfaces." This sophisticated process lets the robot understand an object in a space, move them to their proper places, and distinguish, say, a mirror from a glass table.
In this TRI video, the robot senses objects in its 3D geometry, thus enabling it to identify all kinds of wipeable surfaces such as counters and tables. It would also spot transparent drinking glasses and place them aside. All of these completed milestones are then used as programmable data for the robot to recreate and reuse instead of gathering physical data then perform a task.
Letting robots understand specific home environments "poses special challenges because of the diversity and complexity of our homes where small tasks can add up to big challenges," TRI vice president for robotics Max Bajracharya said. His team has been tasked to develop robotic capabilities to assist humans in an aging society, the Engadget report further said.
Toyota Robot Trained to Assist Humans, Not Replace Them
Elderly care has been the focus in its research, with completing such house tasks an important milestone in its continuing progress. In an interview with TechCrunch, Bajracharya said allowing people to stay at their homes longer and living independently is just one of the project's goals, especially for the elderly population. He considers the growing elderly sector having a "really interesting socioeconomic impact, in terms of workforce."
Toyota, he said, is looking at "how these people can keep doing their jobs, so they can get the fulfillment from doing their jobs or staying at home longer." He added that the company thiks about being "human centered and amplify people."
TRI's immediate goal is to train the robots to clean and help around the house, and the company emphasized it is not doing this to replace human work but to assist people with their daily tasks, Cnet sharred. Such becomes increasingly important for elderly people who may need help around the house, carrying their groceries, or other domestic tasks.
And of course, the robot will be happy doing that for you, while happily taking that selfie, of course.