Archives for October 2015

Robot Mapping System Uses Human Navigation Methods

Robot Mapping System

By Jiuguang Wang (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0]or GFDL


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.

What do you think about this issue?  Leave a comment with your ideas or follow up with a question of your own.

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.

Source: A robot computer algorithm that copies the navigation functionality of humans and animals

Will We Accept Robots Living and Working with Us?

Robots at Work
By Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA (Caught Coding Uploaded by PDTillman) [CC BY 2.0

Humans and Robots

Perhaps this is the most important question about humans and robots.  Can humans and robots coexist on this world?  There are already robots in our homes and there are certainly robots in our workplaces.  So, there is some relationship already.  Some people are already very attached to their bots.People dress up Roombas as pets and give them names.  Other folks become so attached to their robotic companions they have funerals when they cease to function.  And, according to the article that inspired this post, people are very reluctant to even cause harm to a robot.

Personal Experience with Robots

There is something in human nature that makes us attach human attributes to those machines around us.  Seems very weird, but I have seen this occur in my life.  I have several robots in my office that I use for educational workshops and presentations.  Maybe its hard to admit, but I would be very sad to see one of them break.  I don’t think I would hold a funeral for my Tetrix robot, but I would miss having it with me for presentations.

My little humanoid robot will be the hardest to see go to the great robot beyond.  Possibly that is because it talks and seems to relate to humans around it.  Yes, I know its a machine that is programmed to act that way, but still it has become one of my favorite bots.

Robots in the Home and at Work

It seems likely as robots are put into homes, they will become companions to their owners.  Relationships will develop.  It is not as clear to me that robots in the workplace will be perceived in the same way.  On the other hand, military robots have become very popular with the soldiers they work with in the field.  Robots are given names and sometimes the robot have the names painted on them.  The robots that seek out explosives and mines are seen by the personnel as members of their units.  They are missed or even mourned if they become damaged or destroyed.  This has been documented in situations in the recent Middle East wars.

Humanoid Robots

By Tokumeigakarinoaoshima (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

 So, what can we make of this.  Will robots become companions or even friends as they become more commonplace in homes and work?  Does it make a difference if the robot is humanoid?  These are difficult questions to answer and research will need to be done to see how this could effect robot use.

What do you think about this?  Let me know by leaving a comment.

The robots have arrived but will we ever live in harmony with them or will we remain suspicious of their intentions?

Source: Intelligent machines: Will we accept robot revolution? – BBC News