AI Methods in Robotics
AITopics > Robots
The word Robot, which is derived from a Czech word meaning "menial labor," got its modern meaning from a 1920 play, R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), by Czech playwright Karel Capek (1890-1938). The robots in R.U.R. develop emotions and overthrow their human masters. A sinister "power struggle" with robots has long been a popular theme in science fiction - for a change of pace, try Isaac Asimov's "I Robot" stories in which he consciously depicted robots as beneficial to society.
Today, robots are used in many ways, from lawn mowing to auto manufacturing. Scientists see practical uses for robots in performing socially undesirable, hazardous or even "impossible" tasks --- trash collection, toxic waste clean-up, desert and space exploration, and more. AI researchers are also interested in robots as a way to understand human (and not just human) intelligence in its primary function -- interacting with the real world.
Good Starting Places
Robotics Minicourse: Basics of Robots - "Welcome to this Open University robotics minicourse, which is aimed at anyone who has a general interest in robots and now wishes to learn more about robotics. We hope you'll find the course entertaining, informative and worthwhile!" From the Open University - RoboFesta web site. One historical fact you'll learn is: "Where did the word robot originate? The word robot was introduced in 1920 in a play by Karel Capek called R.U.R., or ...."
Robot Systems. "Robots are comprised of several systems working together as a whole. The type of job the robot does dictates what system elements it needs. The general categories of robot systems are: Controller, Body, Mobility, Power, Sensors, Tools." A clearly written text combined with lots of photos and links to actual projects make this page from ROVer Ranch, part of the NASA JSC Learning Technologies Project, a great place to start!
The Big Picture - A Short History of Robotics and Thinking Machines. Part of the teaching guide for the Scientific American Frontiers in the classroom series: ROBOTS ALIVE!
THE. SCIENTIFIC RELEVANCE. OF ROBOTICS. Allen Newell , Remarks at the Dedication of the. CMU Robotics Institute. December 9, 1980. An overview of how robotics assists in the study of intelligence. As relevant today as in 1980.
Rise of the Robots--The Future of Artificial Intelligence By Hans Moravec, Scientific American (March 23, 2009). By 2050 robot "brains" based on computers that execute 100 trillion instructions per second will start rivaling human intelligence.
Robotics by IEEE Spectrum. Current articles on robots and robotics published in IEEE Spectrum, an award-winning flagship publication of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
Robotics. An In Depth report from CBC.ca News (July 2007). Features include:
Robot Pals. Scientific American Frontiers (April 13, 2005). Alan Alda [host]: "The problem with most robots is that they tend to be, well, robotic. They know nothing they aren't programmed to know, and can do nothing they aren't programmed to do. But for many applications where robots could be useful, they need to be more like humans, able to respond as a cooperative partner rather than a mindless machine. In this program, we'll meet some robots that are learning to figure out for themselves what their human companions have in mind." "
September 11 and the Rise of Robots: A technology spurred by tragedy takes hold. Discovery News. (Aug 31, 2011). Content provided by Susan Hassler, IEEE Spectrum. "While they saved no one, these robots were able to traverse some of the vast debris field, going where humans and dogs dared not, demonstrating indisputably that they weren't toys or expensive curiosities but viable machines capable of standing in for humans in dangerous situations. As Murphy has noted, before 9/11 the idea that intelligent robots could help save lives at disaster sites was dismissed as science fiction. But not after.
The Robot in the Next Cubicle: The new wave of robots for sale is aimed squarely at the office market. Business Week (January 14, 2011), By Eric Spitznagel. "Robotic workers aren't completely new. ... As a result of breakthroughs in technology, however, a new breed of machines may soon be filing papers and pushing the mail cart. ...robots are a threat to employees at all levels on the corporate totem pole. Even higher-level thinking—the very quality that many managers say separates them from their staff and from artificial intelligence—can be broken down into easily replicated formulas."
Man's Best Friend. By Steven Kotler. Discover 26(12): December 2005."Discover offers a look in that mirror as we analyze the 25 greatest stepping-stones in robotics, points in time where science fiction meshes with science fact."
I, Robot. A Newspaper In Education (NIE) Weekly Lesson from The Dallas Morning News (May 29, 2007). "In this week's lesson, you will discover how technology is advancing in the field of robotics and get some insight into what considerations to make when designing your own robots for completing certain tasks. ... In what ways are robots different from stand-alone computers and electric motors? How exactly can artificial intelligence be created? ..."
Profile - Cynthia Breazeal: A daring engineer designs robots to communicate and interact the way people do. NOVA scienceNOW [broadcast date: November 21, 2006]. "Thinking outside the box of traditional engineering, Breazeal designs these robots with theories of child development and parent-child interactions in mind, equipping her creations with an ability to learn and giving them expressive, human-like features. And if, as Breazeal hopes, robots are to become our partners, they need to develop the same social skills as people, including emotions. NOVA scienceNOW joins Breazeal in her lab and introduces viewers to some of her seminal inventions: the famous toddler- like robotic head named Kismet; Leonardo, a million-dollar joint project with Stan Winston, legendary in Hollywood for The Terminator robots; and a touch-sensitive teddy bear called the Huggable, which may someday comfort patients and assist caregivers in hospital pediatric wards."
Top Ten Robot Videos (with links to the actual videos).
The Robots Are Coming! By Elizabeth Corcoran. Forbes.com (August 18, 2006). "The robots are on the move--leaping, scrambling, rolling, flying, climbing. They are figuring out how to get here on their own. They come to help us, protect us, amuse us--and some even do floors. Since Czech playwright Karel Capek popularized the term ('robota' means 'forced labor' in Czech) in 1921, we have imagined what robots could do. But reality fell short of our plans: .... No more. In our eighth annual E-Gang (our group of tech innovators to watch), we present the masters of robotic innovation--entrepreneurs and researchers who are fusing advances in biomechanics, software, sensor technology, materials science and computing to create new generations of robotic assistants. ... Unlike PCs, however, robots are calling on the ingenuity of people from wildly diverse backgrounds: biologists are teaching robots to move, entertainers are teaching them how to amuse us, statisticians are teaching them when to ignore data, computer scientists are teaching them how to think, and materials scientists are inventing new composites that make them light on their feet."
Robots: An Exhibition of U.S. Automatons from the Leading Edge of Research Highlighting the WTEC [World Technology Evaluation Center] International Study of Robotics. Presented by NSF, the National Science Foundation (September 2005). Resources within the exhibit site to complement the WTEC study include:
Invasion of the Robots - From medicine to military, machines finally arrive. By Michael Kanellos. CNET News.com (March 10, 2004). "The robots are coming. And when they get here, they will take out the trash. Mobile, intelligent robots that can perform tasks usually reserved for humans are starting to creep into mainstream society and could become a multibillion-dollar market in a few years."
The Robotics Research Group at the University of Texas at Austin has "put together a small educational section which will enable you to explore the world of robotics." Among the topics covered are:
Robots, a CBBC Newsround Guide: *What is a robot? *Robots in films *Award winning robots *Robot gadgets and toys *What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)? *The world's most powerful computer *Robots then and now *Robots in the future *Robots in space.
Examining the Sensitive Side of Robots. [Radio broadcast.] NPR's Talk of the Nation (March 21, 2007). "Science fiction and pop culture have conspired to make most of us think of robots as something out of Terminator or I, Robot. But after six years of behind-the-scenes reporting from the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, Lee Gutkind knows better. Gutkind, the founder and editor of the literary journal Creative Nonfiction, examines the subculture surrounding these mechanical creatures in a new book, Almost Human: Making Robots Think. He found that today's robots are more fun than ferocious, and scientists are making wires and chips increasingly human-like. Gutkind talks with Neal Conan about the sensitive side of robots."
The Humanoid Race - Machines are getting more and more like the rest of us. A piece-by-piece guide to the globe's most advanced bots. By Robert Capps. Wired Magazine (July 2004; Issue 12.07). "With each advance in computing speed, battery capacity, camera and motor miniaturization, and software capability, the world grows closer to the ultimate goal of robotics: a walking, talking, feeling android worthy of our cinematic inspirations. Consider the progress of just the past 15 years. There are now robots that can get around on two legs, participate in simple conversations, and manipulate objects in rudimentary ways. ... And while there are a number of extremely complex problems to solve before we can make something as advanced as Sonny, the star of I, Robot, we're getting there, one piece at a time. To find out where the state of the art lies, Wired surveyed the projects that might one day add up to an android just like the rest of us. "
Ethics for the Robot Age - Should bots carry weapons? Should they win patents? Questions we must answer as automation advances. View by Jordan Pollack. Wired Magazine (January 2005; Issue 13.01). "My definition of a robot is any device controlled by software that can work 24/7 and put people out of work. The machines are not intelligent. ... In case you missed them, today's most popular robots are ATMs and computer printers. While our hopes for and fears of robots may be overblown, there is plenty to worry about as automation progresses. The future will have many more robots, and they'll most certainly be much more advanced. This raises important ethical questions that we must begin to confront. 1. Should robots be humanoid? ... 2. Should humans become robots? ... 4. Should robots eat? ... 6. Should robots carry weapons? ..."
Robocup "is an international research and education initiative. It is an attempt to foster AI and intelligent robotics research by providing a standard problem where wide range of technologies can be integrated and examined, as well as being used for integrated project-oriented education." Links to soccer and rescue competitions and to a library of videos.
Robots and Robotics in Undergraduate AI Education. AI Magazine 27(1), Spring 2006.
Overview of Research Challenges -- summary of four workshops sponsored by The Computing Community Consortium. February, 2009.
The Robots Among Us - If robotics technology now stands where computing did in the '70s, what can we expect in the future? By Tom Abate. San Francisco Chronicle (December 7, 2007). "It may seem like a science fiction leap to go from the dust-sucking Roomba to the walking, talking machines of movie and television fame. But David Calkins, 39, director of the San Francisco State University Robotics Institute, says it isn't so much that the robots are coming as that they are already working for us under different names. 'Why do we call a Roomba a robot and not a dishwasher?' asks Calkins, arguing that we already rely on increasingly clever special-purpose devices and programs such as search engines, which use rudimentary artificial intelligence to answer queries and rank replies. ... 'It's a problem of definitions,' says Calkins. 'People use the r-word to mean so many different things.'"
The 50 Best Robots Ever. By Robert Capps. Wired (January 2006; Issue 14.01). "They're exploring the deep sea and distant planets. They're saving lives in the operating room and on the battlefield. They're transforming factory floors and filmmaking. They're - oh c'mon, they're just plain cool! From Qrio to the Terminator, here are our absolute favorites (at least for now)."
The gentle rise of the machines. Robotics - The science-fiction dream that robots would one day become a part of everyday life was absurd. Or was it? The Economist Technology Quarterly (March 11, 2004). "Since 1939, when Westinghouse Electric introduced Electro, a mechanical man, at the World's Fair in New York, robot fans have imagined a world filled with tireless robotic helpers, always on hand to wash dishes, do the laundry and handle the drudgery of everyday tasks. So far, however, such robots have proliferated in science fiction, but have proved rather more elusive in the real world. But optimists are now arguing that the success of the Roomba and of toys such as Aibo, Sony's robot dog, combined with the plunging cost of computer power, could mean that the long-awaited mass market for robots is finally within reach."
Trust me, I'm a robot - Robot safety: As robots move into homes and offices, ensuring that they do not injure people will be vital. But how? The Economist Technology Quarterly (June 8, 2006). "Last year there were 77 robot-related accidents in Britain alone, according to the Health and Safety Executive. With robots now poised to emerge from their industrial cages and to move into homes and workplaces, roboticists are concerned about the safety implications beyond the factory floor. To address these concerns, leading robot experts have come together to try to find ways to prevent robots from harming people. Inspired by the Pugwash Conferences -- an international group of scientists, academics and activists founded in 1957 to campaign for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons -- the new group of robo-ethicists met earlier this year in Genoa, Italy, and announced their initial findings in March at the European Robotics Symposium in Palermo, Sicily. ... According to the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's World Robotics Survey, in 2002 the number of domestic and service robots more than tripled, nearly outstripping their industrial counterparts. ... So what exactly is being done to protect us from these mechanical menaces? 'Not enough,' says Blay Whitby, an artificial-intelligence expert at the University of Sussex in England. ... Robot safety is likely to surface in the civil courts as a matter of product liability. 'When the first robot carpet-sweeper sucks up a baby, who will be to blame?' asks John Hallam, a professor at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense. If a robot is autonomous and capable of learning, can its designer be held responsible for all its actions? Today the answer to these questions is generally 'yes'. But as robots grow in complexity it will become a lot less clear cut, he says."
Robots/ Mechanical Life. NPR Talk of the Nation: Science Friday With Ira Flatow (August 30, 2002). "This week, an automated convenience store opened in Washington. This robo-mart dispenses snacks, toiletries, and even DVDs. From housekeeping to the battlefield to your neighborhood convenience store, researchers are creating robots to live with us and work for us. In this hour, we'll look at how robots may change our lives. Plus, early attempts to create mechanical life." Guests: Rodney Brooks & Gaby Wood. You can listen to the radio broadcast by clicking here.
The robot that thinks like you... Scientists built a robot that thinks like we do and set it loose to explore the world. New Scientist discovers what happened next By Douglas Fox. New Scientist (November 5, 2005; subscription req'd.; Issue 2524). "The infant I am watching wander around its rather spartan playpen in the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) in La Jolla, California, is a more limited creature. It is a trashcan-shaped robot called Darwin VII, and it has just 20,000 brain cells. Despite this, it has managed to master the abilities of a 18-month-old baby -- a pretty impressive feat for a machine. ... Darwin VII is the fourth in a series of robots that Jeff Krichmar and his colleagues at NSI have created in a quest to better understand how our own brains work. ... The idea of an artificial neural network that could perform computations was proposed as long ago as 1943, by Warren McCullough and Walter Pitts at the University of Illinois. ... [I]n the past few years, neuroscientists and AI researchers have started collaborating more closely, and their labours are beginning to bear fruit. Their conclusions challenge two decades of research into artificial neural networks."
The Real Transformers - Researchers are programming robots to learn in humanlike ways and show humanlike traits. Could this be the beginning of robot consciousness -- and of a better understanding of ourselves? By Robin Marantz Henig. The New York Times Sunday Magazine (July 29, 2007 cover story). "I was introduced to my first sociable robot on a sunny afternoon in June. The robot, developed by graduate students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was named Mertz. ... "
What We Can Learn from Robots. By Gregory T. Huang. Technology Review (January 2005). "On a crisp October day last year, Carnegie Mellon Universityís Robotics Institute kicked off its 25th-anniversary celebration.... On the third day, it was Mitsuo Kawatoís turn to speak. The lights went down, and the director of the ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, made his way to the stage to the beat of rock music. ... [T] here is a difference between him and other attendees. Kawato loves robots not because they are cool, but because he believes they can teach him how the human brain works. 'Only when we try to reproduce brain functions in artificial machines can we understand the information processing of the brain,' he says. Itís what he calls 'understanding the brain by creating the brain.' By programming a robot to reach out and grasp an object, for instance, Kawato hopes to learn the patterns in which electrical signals flow among neurons in the brain to control a human arm. ... 'This is very different from the usual justification for building humanoid robots --- that they are economically useful or will help take care of the elderly,' says Christopher Atkeson, a robotics expert at Carnegie Mellon."
Bots on The Ground - In the Field of Battle (Or Even Above It), Robots Are a Soldier's Best Friend. By Joel Garreau The Washington Post (May 6, 2007). "The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have become an unprecedented field study in human relationships with intelligent machines. These conflicts are the first in history to see widespread deployment of thousands of battle bots. ... Even more startling than these machines' capabilities, however, are the effects they have on their friendly keepers who, for example, award their bots 'battlefield promotions' and 'purple hearts.' ... Humans have long displayed an uncanny ability to make emotional connections with their manufactured helpmates. ... Digital pets like the Tamagotchi or the Furby, designed to be cute, have long caused children to make spooky levels of connection. Sherry Turkle, founder of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self, quotes kids describing intelligent machines as 'sort of alive.' ... Humans respond so readily to Kismet, created by Cynthia Breazeal, that graduate students working in the lab at night have been known to put up a curtain between themselves and the bot, [Rodney] Brooks reports. ... The 2 million personal bots in use around the world in 2004 are expected to grow to 7 million next year. The South Korean Ministry of Information and Communication hopes to put a bot in every home there within six years."
Newsmaker interview with Rodney Brooks, director of MIT's CSAIL and CTO of iRobot: Sizing up the coming robotics revolution. By Candace Lombardi. CNET News.com (May 15, 2007). "When it comes to robots, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab is one of the places in the world where the magic happens. Rodney Brooks is the Panasonic professor of robotics at MIT and the director of CSAIL. He is also the co-founder and chief technology officer of iRobot and one of the principal architects of iRobot's Roomba vacuum. On Tuesday, RoboBusiness 2007, an international conference showcasing consumer, commercial and military robots, will convene in Boston. To gain insight on what's in the pipeline, CNET News.com sat down with Brooks, one of the leading experts on robots and artificial intelligence. From his office at CSAIL, Brooks shared his thoughts on the best AI readily available today and the four things it will take for the magicians of science to match science fiction fantasies."
Newsmaker interview with Matt Mason, director of the Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University - Roboticist inspired by more than machines. By Candace Lombardi. CNET News.com (May 18, 2007). "On Tuesday, Matt Mason, the director of the Robotics Institute at CMU announced the 2007 inductees into the Robot Hall of Fame. The honor, which is judged by a jury of both leading science and science fiction experts, was created in April 2003 to call attention to the contributions robots and their creators make to society. Mason is known for his work on the mechanics of robot manipulation and has written four books on the topic. He spent some time with CNET News.com from the great glass hall of the Hynes Convention Center in Boston during RoboBusiness 2007."
Domestic bliss through mechanical marvels? By Kevin Maney. USA Today (September 1, 2004). "Never mind the humanoid Automated Domestic Assistants walking rich people's pets in the movie I, Robot, or the accordion-armed Robot B9 in TV classic Lost in Space warning of danger on lonely planets. The real force driving the development of personal robots -- and what will eventually create demand for them in the marketplace -- is aging baby boomers. That's the secret among robotics researchers and budding robot companies. As the horde of boomers become old, they increasingly will be unable to care for themselves or their homes. They'll face a social and medical system straining to help them. But they'll be comfortable with technology. ... Robots that are likely to serve the elderly seem to fall into three broad categories. Though the categories don't officially have names, you could call them homebots, carebots and joybots. A look at those categories speaks volumes about what's going on in robotics -- and what's still beyond technology's reach. ... 'Whether or not you have to love your robot is another question,' Brooks says. 'I don't need my ATM to be cute.' Here is a great point of departure between U.S. and Japanese robotics research. U.S. labs and companies generally approach robots as tools. The Japanese approach them as beings. That explains a lot about robot projects coming out of Japan."
20 Things You Didn't Know About... Robots - Modern robots can respond to emotion and the smell of fine wines. By Sean Markey and Corey S. Powell. Discover Magazine (April 2, 2007).
Getting a Grip - Building the Ultimate Robotic Hand. By Gregory Mone. Wired (Issue 15.12; December 2007). "A 6-foot-tall, one-armed robot named Stair 1.0 balances on a modified Segway platform in the doorway of a Stanford University conference room. ... From his seat at a polished table, roboticist Morgan Quigley sends the bot on a mission. 'Stair, please fetch the stapler from the lab.' ... To do real work in our offices and homes, to fetch our staplers or clean up our rooms, robots are going to have to master their hands. They'll need the kind of 'hand-eye' coordination that enables them to identify targets, guide their mechanical mitts toward them, and then manipulate the objects deftly. There's a growing need for robots with these skills. In Japan, the elder care industry is already employing robots as assistants. To keep seniors out of costly nursing homes, though, they need to be able to perform household chores like serving up a drink. Even that simple task will entail plucking a glass out of a crowded cupboard, finding and removing a bottle from a fridge, and then pouring the beverage from one container into the other. And the bot needs to do all this without spilling, dropping, or breaking anything. ... In a more spacious lab at the University of Massachusetts, UMan is going through a similar kind of basic training. Stair and UMan could be brothers: They look alike, use the same scanning lasers, and were both developed around a single hand built by Barrett [Technology]. The UMan creators designed an algorithm that helps their robot figure out how to use that hand with objects it has never seen before.† ... In a more spacious lab at the University of Massachusetts, UMan is going through a similar kind of basic training. Stair and UMan could be brothers: They look alike, use the same scanning lasers, and were both developed around a single hand built by Barrett. The UMan creators designed an algorithm that helps their robot figure out how to use that hand with objects it has never seen before. ... As Europe's preeminent robotics facility and one of the world's epicenters of artificial intelligence research, [University of Genoa's Laboratory for Integrated Advanced Robotics is] dominated by eggheads staring at monitors. And, of course, there's an android hanging around the place. The size and shape of a 3-year-old, RobotCub has two five-fingered hands,"
Robot: Mere Machine to Transcendant Mind. By Hans Moravec (1998). New York: Oxford University Press. An adventurous look at the future in which the author sees intelligent machines surpassing their human creators as the next evolutionary step. The author's web page includes an in-depth look at the book. You may also want to read the transcript of a November 1998 interview with Hans Moravec.
The Scientific Relevance of Robotics (Remarks at the Dedication of the CMU Robotics Institute). By Allen Newell. AI Magazine 2(1): 24-26, 34 (Winter 1980). "My first point, then, is to remind you that science doesn't fit any single mold. ... From where I stand, it is easy to see the science lurking in robotics. It lies in the welding of intelligence to energy. That is, it lies in intelligent perception and intelligent control of motion."
Emotionware. By Lynellen D.S. Perry (1996). ACM Crossroads Student Magazine. "The capability of displaying emotion seems to be a critical component of creating intelligent agents with whom humans can comfortably relate and communicate. The emotional aspect distinguishes a dead machine from an agent who is believable, alive, and trustworthy."
The Intimate Machine. Scientific American Frontiers (October 22, 2002). "Scientists blend technology with sociology to make our machines more fun to use."
The programmable robot of ancient Greece. By Noel Sharkey (Professor of artificial intelligence and robotics at the University of Sheffield, UK. His forthcoming book is called The Tin Man). New Scientist (July 7, 2007; Issue 2611: pages 32-35; subscription req'd). "Constructing a mechanical lion that could walk, let alone present flowers to the king, can't have been a simple task back in 1515 - even for a genius like Leonardo da Vinci. How he managed this feat remained a mystery until 2000, when US robotics expert Mark Rosheim came to a surprising conclusion. ... [W]as da Vinci influenced by an earlier design? And if so, how far back in history can we trace programmable robots? In search of answers I followed the technology back through medieval Europe to the Islamic world, where I have found evidence of an even earlier programmable automaton, made in Baghdad by the brilliant 13th-century engineer Ibn Ismail Ibn al-Razzaz Al-Jazari. ... Yet the trail doesn't stop there. It led me even further back past the automata of the Byzantine court and ancient Rome to ancient Alexandria. It was here that Hero, one of the greatest Greek engineers, constructed a programmable robot that pre-dates da Vinci's by 1500 years. ... So what exactly do we mean by 'programmable'? ..."
Robots and the Rest of Us. View by Bruce Sterling. Wired Magazine (May 2004; Issue 12.05). "Since when do machines need an ethical code? For 80 years, visionaries have imagined robots that look like us, work like us, perceive the world, judge it, and take action on their own. The robot butler is still as mystical as the flying car, but there's trouble rising in the garage. In Nobel's vaulted ballroom, experts uneasily point out that automatons are challenging humankind on four fronts. First, this is a time of war. ... The prospect of autonomous weapons naturally raises ethical questions. ... The second ominous frontier is brain augmentation, best embodied by the remote-controlled rat recently created at SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn. ... Another troubling frontier is physical, as opposed to mental, augmentation. ... Frontier number four is social: human reaction to the troubling presence of the humanoid. ... If the [First International Symposium on Roboethics] offers a take-home message, it's not about robots, but about us."
Machine learning on physical robots [slide show with audio]. By Peter Stone, The University of Texas at Austin. Presented at the University of Pennsylvania's GRASP Lab's GRASP Seminar Series (March 31, 2006). Abstract: "As robot technology advances, we are approaching the day when robots will be deployed prevalently in uncontrolled, unpredictable environments: the proverbial 'real world.' As this happens, it will be essential for these robots to be able to adapt autonomously to their changing environment. For a robot to learn to improve its performance based entirely on real-world environmental feedback, the robot's behavior specification and learning algorithm must be constructed so as to enable data-efficient learning. This talk presents 3 examples of machine learning on physical robots. ..."
Man and machine - Part 1: the quest for mechanical man. By Dheera Sujan. Radio Netherlands (November 26, 2004). "In her book Edison's Eve: A Magical History of the Quest for Mechanical Life, Gaby Wood documents the long history of humanity's fascination with mechanical representations of itself. And she poses the question - what do we want from a machine that simulates us? 'Is it supposed to be as close as possible to a human being, or to improve on that, and become superhuman? In the quest for mechanical perfection, does perfection mean infallibility (as in the computer), or innocence (as in the child)?' These questions have been around since the Enlightenment and the dawn of the age of machines; now researchers in the field of Artificial Intelligence are returning to them as they gain renewed relevance. ... At what pointpoint does a humanoid machine achieve personhood? Dr [Anne] Foerst's search for an answer to this question has led her through a philosophical maze that has forced her to examine her own ideas on what it means to be alive. ... Fear has always been part of the fascination we have for the idea of reproducing ourselves mechanically. According to Dr Foerst, however, that won't happen if we take responsibility for our creation. After all, Dr Frankenstein didn't create a monster; the creature (never dignified with a name) only became a monster when he was rejected by his creator and the rest of mankind." ‘’You can listen to the broadcast via a link on the page.’’
Autonomous Mental Development by Robots and Animals. By Juyang Weng, James McClelland, Alex Pentland, Olaf Sporns, Ida Stockman, Mriganka Sur, Esther Thelen. (2000). , Science, Vol. 291, No. 5504; pages 599 - 600, 26 January 2001). "How does one create an intelligent machine? This problem has proven difficult. Over the past several decades, scientists have taken one of three approaches: In the first, which is knowledge-based, an intelligent machine in a laboratory is directly programmed to perform a given task. In a second, learning-based approach, a computer is 'spoon-fed' human-edited sensory data while the machine is controlled by a task-specific learning program. Finally, by a 'genetic search,' robots have evolved through generations by the principle of survival of the fittest, mostly in a computer-simulated virtual world. Although notable, none of these is powerful enough to lead to machines having the complex, diverse, and highly integrated capabilities of an adult brain, such as vision, speech, and language. Nevertheless, these traditional approaches have served as the incubator for the birth and growth of a new direction for machine intelligence: autonomous mental development."
WTEC [World Technology Evaluation Center] Study on International Research and Development in Robotics. "The purpose of this study is to gather information on worldwide status and trends in robotics R&D and disseminate it to government decision-makers and the research community. The study panelists will gather information on robotics R&D abroad useful to the U.S. government in its own R&D programs, and to critically analyze and compare the research in the United States with that being pursued in Japan, Korea, and Europe."
Meet Some Robots
Since we can’t speak of a complete humanoid robot that can do most tasks in the house, this is a promising start. While most humanoid robots are in the experimental phase or are not available on the market, the humanoids described in this article are for sale. The price create a barrier between us and these robots, but in time they will become available once the number of purchases increases." Prices (2012) range from $15,000 to $300,000. Good pictures.
Competitions (a sampling)
University Robotics Projects. A resource for teachers, students and other AI enthusiasts. The platform provides universities a channel to display university robotics projects to the industry and public. It is meant to serve not only as a permanent updatable repository, but also as an invaluable resource for professors and students to minimize time spent searching for information. In addition, it is intended to increase public interest and access to new and ongoing projects in universities worldwide to facilitate effective coordination and information exchange between the universities and the public. The site includes videos, pictures and descriptions.
Overview of Robotics from Quacktu Robotics with links to history, videos, manufacturers, kits, and more.
AI on the Web: Perception and Robotics. A resource companion to Stuart Russell and Peter Norvig's "Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach" with links to reference material, people, research groups, books, companies and much more.
Cogbotlab at Technischen Universitat Munchen. "Mission: to build robots that learn. Tools: recurrent networks, Bayesian methods, reinforcement learning, evolution, optimal search, others. Theory: optimal universal learners, universal Bayesian induction, Kolmogorov complexity, Gˆdel machines."
Evolutionary Robotics - Co-evolution is just one of the fascinating projects you'll find at DEMO's (Dynamical & Evolutionary Machine Organization) site (Brandeis University). "Our work investigates both evolving controllers for robots and co-evolution. Ultimately, we aim for inexpensive robots that design themselves to address problems."
Field Robotics Center at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute: "creating automated work machines for land, sea, air and space." Be sure to check out their Research Initiatives and Robots [Terregator, NavLab, Dante, Nomad, Hyperion, Yogi, Zoe, and many others].
GRASP Laboratory of Robotics Research and Education: "The General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab is a truly inter-disciplinary research center at the University of Pennsylvania. ... Founded in 1979 , the lab has grown today to be one of the premier research centers focusing on fundamental research in robotics, vision, perception, control, automation and learning."
IEEE Robotics and Automation Society. "The Society is interested in both applied and theoretical issues in robotics and automation. Robotics is here defined to include intelligent machines and systems used, for example, in space exploration, human services, or manufacturing; whereas automation includes the use of automated methods in various applications, for example, factory, office, home, laboratory automation, or transportation systems to improve performance and productivity. Robotics and Automation involves designing and implementing intelligent machines which can do work too dirty, too dangerous, too precise or too tedious for humans."
Robotics: sensing - thinking - acting. An online exhibit from The Tech Museum of Innovation. These are just some of the exciting resources that await you:
Robots and Society - "Robots have a evolving role in society today. The following list outlines some of the ways in which robotics and artificial intelligence has an impact on our lives." From The British Council. Other related pages in their web site include: Research in Robotics and UK Companies.
Robot Books.com - "Our Job is to sort through the many robotics books available today, and select, review, recommend, and sell, just those few that we feel are the very best. In addition to books, you will also find a selection of robot toys, movies, educational toys, magazines, and robot kits, that you can't find anywhere else on the web." Also be sure to see their robot competitions and robot clubs link collections.
Talking Robots: "a podcast featuring interviews with high-profile professionals in Robotics and Artificial Intelligence for an inside view on the science, technology, and business of intelligent robotics. Talking Robots is brought to you by the Laboratory of Intelligent Systems, EPFL, Switzerland."
Other References Offline
Britton, Peter. 1995. Undersea Explorers. Popular Science 246 (May 1995): 39-42.
Buhmann, Joachim, et. al. 1995. The Mobile Robot Rhino. AI Magazine 16 (2): 31-38. Rhino was the University of Bonn's entry in the 1994 AAAI Robot Competition. Rhino is a mobile robot designed for indoor navigation and manipulation tasks. The general scientific goal of the rhino project is development and analysis of autonomous and complex learning systems. This article describes major components of the rhino control software, sketches the basic philosophy of the rhino architecture and discusses lessons learned at the competition.
Canny, J. F. 1988. The Complexity of Robot Motion Planning. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Domaine, Helen. 2005. Robotics. Lerner Publications.
Earnest, Les. 2005. The Stanford Cart. "The Stanford Cart was born as a research platform for studying the problem of controlling a Moon rover from Earth. It then was reconfigured as a robot vehicle for research in visual navigation, then went into show business for a few years at the Computer Museum in Boston. It now resides in a home for retired robots at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California."
Engelberger, J. F. 1989. Robotics in Service. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Engelberger, J. F. 1980. Robotics in Practice. New York: Amacom.
Fikes, R., P. Hart, and N. Nilsson. 1972. Learning and Executing Generalized Robot Plans. Artificial Intelligence 3: 1-4.
Goldsmith, Mike. Record entries for science prize. By Christine McGourty. BBC News (May 10, 2004). "The Aventis Prize is worth £10,000 to the winner and guarantees a sales rush. The prize, which includes a junior category, is managed by the UK's science academy, the Royal Society. ... The shortlisted books for the 2004 Junior Prize: ... Riotous Robots, by Mike Goldsmith (Scholastic Children's Books ) - In brief: From Frankenstein to nanobots, this is a comprehensive and entertaining guide to the history and future of robots. It explains the technical detail of how robots work in an accessible way.
Grepo, Stephanie V. 1996. Robot Ant-ics. Technology Review 99: 13-14.
Hinkle, David, David Kortenkamp, and David Miller 1996. The 1995 Robot Competition and Exhibition. AI Magazine 17 (1): 31-45.
Horn, B. K. P. 1986. Robot Vision. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
Jones, Joseph, Anita Flynn, and Bruce Seiger. 1999. Mobile Robots: Inspiration to Implementation. 2nd edition. Natick, MA: A. K. Peters.
Kanade, Takeo, Michael Reed, and Lee E. Weiss. 1994. New Technologies and Applications in Robotics. Communications of the ACM 37 (3): 58-76.
Konolige, Kurt. 1995. ERRATIC Competes with the Big Boys. AI Magazine 16 (2): 61-67. This article discusses the development of the robot ERRATIC, the second-place winner of the 1994 AAAI Robot Competition. The perceptual and control architecture is described, as well as the robot's performance during the competition.
Kortenkamp, David, R. Peter Bonasso, and Robin Murphy, editors. 1998. Artificial Intelligence and Mobile Robots: Case Studies of Successful Robot Systems. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. These case studies describe robots that have "left the lab" and been tested in the field. Includes descriptions of important algorithms and pseudo-code, and covers themes of navigation, mapping, vision, and architecture.
Lederman, Susan J. and Roberta L. Klatzky. 1994. The Intelligent Hand: An Experimental Approach to Human Object Recognition and Implications for Robotics and AI. AI Magazine 15 (1): 26-38. The scientific study of biological systems offers a complementary approach to more formal analytic methods favored by roboticists.
McDermott, Drew. 1992. Robot Planning. AI Magazine 13 (2): 55-79. "There are several strands of research in the field; I survey six: (1) attempts to avoid planning; (2) the design of flexible plan notations; (3) theories of time-constrained planning; (4) planning by projecting and repairing faulty plans; (5) motion planning; and (6) the learning of optimal behaviors from reinforcements."
Moran, Barbara, and Laura Van Dam. 1996. Robots on all Twos. Technology Review 99: 10-11.
Moravec, Hans. 1988. Mind Children: The Future of Robot and Human Intelligence. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. A lively and accessible overview of the field of robotics from the director of the Mobile Robot Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University. The book covers historical development as well as social issues.
Murphy, Robin R. 2000. An Introduction to AI Robotics. MIT Press. "This text covers all the material needed to understand the principles behind the AI approach to robotics and to program an artificially intelligent robot for applications involving sensing, navigation, planning, and uncertainty. Robin Murphy is extremely effective at combining theoretical and practical rigor with a light narrative touch. In the overview, for example, she touches upon anthropomorphic robots from classic films and science fiction stories before delving into the nuts and bolts of organizing intelligence in robots. "
Nadis, Steven J. 1995. Fantastic Voyage. Omni 17 (January 1995): 9.
Nadis, Steven J., and Jerry Shine. 1996. Go Team, Go. Popular Science 248 (May 1996): 40.
Normile, Dennis. 1997. RoboCup Soccer Match is a Challenge for Silicon Rookies. Science 277 (September 26, 1997): 1933.
Nourbakhsh, Illah, Bob Powers, and Stan Birchfield. 1995. DERVISH: An Office Navigating Robot. AI Magazine 16 (2): 53-60. DERVISH won the Office Delivery event of the 1994 Robot Competition and Exhibition. Although the contest required DERVISH to navigate in an artificial office environment, the goal of the contest was to push the technology of robot navigation in real office buildings with minimal domain information. DERVISH navigates reliably using retractable assumptions that simplify the planning problem.
Pomerleau, D. 1993. Neural Network Perception for Mobile Robot Guidance. Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Poole, David, Alan Mackworth, and Randy Goebels. 1998. Building Situated Robots. In Computational Intelligence: A Logical Approach, 443-460. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Russell, Stuart, and Peter Norvig. 2002. Robotics. In Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach (Second Edition).
Ryder, Graham. 1996. Humans and Robots in the Geological Exploration of Planets. Ad Astra 8 (Nov/Dec 1996): 20-1.
Spice, Byron 1997. Look, No Hands: CMU Automotive Robot is Now Able to Control a Car on the Highway. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, June 30, 1997: Science & Environment, A6+.
Stone, Brad. 1997. Actually, Chess is Easy. Newsweek 129 (May 5, 1997): 53. Discusses robot competitions in the fields of navigation, aviation, and soccer.
Suplee, Curt. 1997. Robot Revolution. National Geographic 192 (July 1997): 76-95.
Thomson, Alan J. 1995. Object-Oriented Blowfly: A Study in Computational Neuroethology. AI Applications 9 (2): 15-25.
Thrun, Sebastian. 1997. To Know or Not to Know: On the Utility of Models in Mobile Robots. AI Magazine 18 (1): 47-54.
Yoshikawa, T. 1990. Foundations of Robotics: Analysis and Control. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.