Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New breed of cognitive robot … a puppy?

Designers of artificial cognitive systems have tended to adopt one of two approaches to building robots that can think for themselves: classical rule-based artificial intelligence or artificial neural networks.

Both have advantages and disadvantages, and combining the two offers the best of both worlds, say a team of European researchers who have developed a new breed of cognitive, learning robot that goes beyond the state of the art.

The researchers’ work brings together the two distinct but mutually supportive technologies that have been used to develop artificial cognitive systems (ACS) for different purposes. The classical approach to artificial intelligence (AI) relies on a rule-based system in which the designer largely supplies the knowledge and scene representations, making the robot follow a decision-making process – much like climbing through the branches of a tree – toward a predefined response.

Biologically inspired artificial neural networks (ANNs), on the other hand, rely on processing continuous signals and a non-linear optimisation process to reach a response which, due to the lack of preset rules, requires developers to carefully balance the system constraints and its freedom to act autonomously.

“Developing systems in classical AI is essentially a top-down approach, whereas in ANN it is a bottom-up approach,” explains Michael Felsberg, a researcher at the Computer Vision Laboratory of Linköping University in Sweden. “The problem is that, used individually, these systems have major shortcomings when it comes to developing advanced ACS architectures. ANN is too trivial to solve complex tasks, while classical AI cannot solve them if it has not been pre-programmed to do so.”

Beyond the state of the art
Working in the EU-funded COSPAL project, Felsberg’s team found that using the two technologies together solves many of those issues. In what the researchers believe to be the most advanced example of such a system developed anywhere in the world, they used ANN to handle the low-level functions based on the visual input their robots received and then employed classical AI on top of that in a supervisory function.

“In this way, we found it was possible for the robots to explore the world around them through direct interaction, create ways to act in it and then control their actions in accordance. This combines the advantages of classical AI, which is superior when it comes to functions akin to human rationality, and the advantages of ANN, which is superior at performing tasks for which humans would use their subconscious, things like basic motor skills and low-level cognitive tasks,” notes Felsberg.

The most important difference between the COSPAL approach and what had been the state of the art is that the researchers’ ACS is scalable. It is able to learn by itself and can solve increasingly complex tasks with no additional programming.

“There is a direct mapping from the visual precepts to performing the action,” Felsberg confirms. “With previous systems, if something in the environment changed that the low-level system was not programmed to recognise, it would give random responses but the supervising AI process would not realise anything was wrong. With our approach, the system realises something is different and if its actions do not result in success it tries something else,” the project coordinator explains.

“Like training a child or a puppy”
This trial-and-error learning approach was tested by making the COSPAL robot complete a shape-sorting puzzle, but without telling it what it had to do. As it tried to fit pegs into holes it gradually learnt what would fit where, allowing it to complete the puzzle more quickly and accurately each time.

“After visual bootstrapping, the only human input was from an operator who had two buttons, one to tell the robot it was successful and another to tell it that it had made a mistake. It is much like training a child or a puppy,” Felsberg says.

Though a learning, cognitive robot of the kind developed in COSPAL constitutes an important leap forward toward the development of more autonomous robots, Felsberg says it will be some time before robots gain anything close to human cognition and intelligence, if they ever do.

“In human terms, our robot is probably like a two or three year old child, and it will take a long time for the technology to progress into the equivalent of adulthood. I don’t think we will see it in our lifetimes,” he says.

Nonetheless, robots like those developed in COSPAL will undoubtedly start to play a greater role in our lives. The project partners are in the process of launching a follow-up project called DIPLECS to test their ACS architecture in a car. It will be used to make the vehicle cognitive and aware of its surroundings, creating an artificial co-pilot to increase safety no matter the weather, road or traffic conditions.

“In the real world you need a system that is capable of adapting to unforeseen circumstances, and that is the greatest accomplishment of our ACS,” Felsberg notes.

Ahmed ElAmin | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Next Generation Cryptography
20.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Sichere Informationstechnologie SIT

nachricht TIB’s Visual Analytics Research Group to develop methods for person detection and visualisation
19.03.2018 | Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB)

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>