Video: Collaborative robots learn as they go

Dec 17, 2013
Collaborative robots learn as they go
A century after Western explorers first crossed the dangerous landscapes of the Arctic and Antarctic, researchers have successfully deployed a self-guided robot that uses ground-penetrating radar to map deadly crevasses hidden in ice-covered terrains. Deployment of the robot--dubbed Yeti--could make Arctic and Antarctic explorations safer by revealing the potentially dangerous fissures buried beneath ice and snow. Credit: James Lever, U.S. Army's Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory

Meet CoBot—short for "Collaborative Robot." You might call it "help on wheels." With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), computer scientist Manuela Veloso and her team at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) are developing CoBots, autonomous indoor service robots to interact with people and provide help "on the go."

Getting on a CoBot's dance card is simple: log on to a website, select a task, book a time slot—and CoBot is on the job. If one CoBot is too busy, then another will carry out the request. CoBots can transport objects, deliver messages, escort people and go to places, continuously executing these tasks over multiple weeks in a multi-floor building. The robustness of the 's localization and navigation has permitted it to travel non-accompanied for hundreds of kilometers in a building.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

CoBots are able to plan their paths and smoothly navigate autonomously. They monitor the walls, calculate planar surfaces, and plot window and door locations—all while avoiding dynamic obstacles and even making notes about things like where the carpet and hardwood floor meet. Aware of their limitations, CoBots also proactively ask for help from the web or from humans for locations and for assistance with tasks that they cannot do, such as pressing elevator buttons and picking up objects to be carried.

Collaborative robots learn as they go
Clifford I. Nass, the Thomas M. Storke Professor at Stanford University, and Robin Murphy, the director of the Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue and a professor of computer science and engineering at Texas A&M University, are exploring ways to make rescue robots more user-friendly by incorporating lessons learned from studies of how humans interact with technology. Rescue robots serve as a trapped disaster victim's lifeline to the outside world. But they are worthless if the victim finds them scary, bossy, out-of-control or just plain creepy. "The term that keeps coming up is 'creepy.' People find the robots that are supposed to be helping them creepy," Murphy said. She and Nass are working to ease the "creep" factor in rescue robots. The researchers also hope to improve the devices in ways that will make them more valuable to law enforcement, such as in hostage negotiations, as well as in emergency response situations, where robots already are in use. Credit: Texas A&M University


Explore further: Maybe not sci-fi, but robots readied for big tests

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Maybe not sci-fi, but robots readied for big tests

Dec 15, 2013

The real world has not caught up yet with "Star Wars" and its talking, thinking robots, but some of the most sophisticated units that exist are heading to Florida this week for a Defense Department-sponsored ...

Atlas teams head for DARPA Robotics Challenge

Nov 26, 2013

(Phys.org) —December 20 is a big day for teams competing in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge. The idea is to promote critical improvements in what robots can do to ...

Robots: How long before they're part of the family?

Aug 06, 2013

Low-cost, high-performance sensors, such as digital cameras, and advances in computer vision and artificial intelligence are bringing the age of robots ever closer, says QUT robotics scientist Dr Feras Dayoub.

Humanoid robot "Russell" engages children with autism

Nov 19, 2013

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), mechanical and computer engineer Nilanjan Sarkar and psychologist Zachary Warren of Vanderbilt University have developed a learning environment for ...

Recommended for you

Firmer footing for robots with smart walking sticks

Nov 25, 2014

Anyone who has ever watched a humanoid robot move around in the real world—an "unstructured environment," in research parlance—knows how hard it is for a machine to plan complex movements, balance on ...

Knightscope K5 on security patrol roams campus

Nov 24, 2014

A Mountain View, California-based company called Knightscope designs and builds 5-feet, 300-pound security guards called K5, but anyone scanning last week's headlines has already heard about them, with the ...

Robots take over inspection of ballast tanks on ships

Nov 24, 2014

A new robot for inspecting ballast water tanks on board ships is being developed by a Dutch-German partnership including the University of Twente. The robot is able to move independently along rails built ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.