Robot Mapping and Navigation
One of the major issues in robotics development has been the ability of a robot to find its way around in a room or a building. Robots have to be able to locate themselves within a space and then find their way around that space. Now, it seems that one group of researchers has found a solution to that problem. They have copied the functionality of the human navigation system into a robot.
Software mimics the specialized brain cells in humans and animals that carry out this function. The robot mapping system is able to build a map of an office space and allow the robot to find its way in an unfamiliar environment.
Robot Mapping Applications
This development has many potential applications in robotics whether in robots that vacuum floors or in robots delivering mail in an office.
Finding the way around an unknown area is known as simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM). It is one thing to map out a room full of furniture that never moves, but what about the reality of the situation. Humans tend to move around and also move around the chairs in a room. This means a robot must adapt to this changing landscape of humans and objects.
To be useful in everyday applications, robots must be able to solve these navigation problems. To humans it is second nature and automatic. For robots it is sensors and programming.
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A robot with a navigation system that mirrors the neural scheme used by humans and animals to find their way around has been developed by A*STAR researchers.