Humanoid robots are already dancing, overturning and scaring people all over the world. However, they still need a lot of work. Sensitive motor skills often present a challenge that requires ingenious solutions. Thus, a group of MIT engineers came up with a new solution. They programmed a robotic arm to help people get dressed. And the great news is: the robo-arm won’t hurt anyone!
MIT recently announced a new algorithmically improved arm. A group of engineers in the Institute ‘s Laboratory for Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence (or CSAIL) created a bot. For those unfamiliar, CSAIL stands behind many other projects. Some of these previous projects involve making robots to change shape in some cases while collecting clothing data for others.
For this project, the engineers say their goal was to help streamline interactions between robots and humans. Specifically, “to assist the robot in finding effective motion plans” to ensure the physical safety of a human. Although robots do things fantastically that humans can’t, they tend to be awful at the simple things that humans take for granted.
Engineers have programmed the robotic arm with the ultimate hope that it will help the disabled or minimize mobility. MIT journalist Rachel Gordon notes that the robot provides a “theoretical guarantee” for human safety. This can be achieved by using realistic models of human movement. However, the project team does not appear to have introduced machine learning, which is surprising.
To ensure human safety, the team algorithm takes into account the uncertainty of human movements. Robots usually have a single default model in which the robot understands only one potential reaction. To solve this, the team gave the machine an understanding of the many possibilities of human movement. This allows the robot to more closely mimic how a human can understand other people.
“Developing algorithms to prevent physical harm without unnecessarily affecting task efficiency is a key challenge,” Dr. MIT student Shen Li, lead author of the research project, said in a press release. “By enabling robots to harm humans in a harmless way, our method can find effective robotic pathways that can clothe a human with a safety guarantee.”
Typical image: MITCSAIL