Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

I Robot, your companion

30.06.2006
Robotic technology is advancing apace and now a top team of European scientists and engineers hope to make the leap from single function ‘dumb’ machines to adaptive learning machines.

The concept of a cognitive robotic companion inspires some of the best science fiction but one day may be science fact following the work of the four-year COGNIRON project funded since January 2004 by the IST’s Future and Emerging Technologies initiative. But what could a cognitive robot companion do?


Perception/Interpretation and Interaction with humans are two of the four key capacities required by a robot companion –credits : Fraunhofer IPA, LAAS-CNRS, University of Amsterdam, KTH

"Well, that's a difficult question. The example that's often used is a robot that's able to fulfil your needs, like passing you a drink or helping in everyday tasks," says Dr Raja Chatila, research director at the Systems Architecture and Analysis Laboratory of the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (LAAS-CNRS), and COGNIRON project coordinator.

"That might seem a bit trivial, but let me ask you a question: In the 1970s, what was the use of a personal computer?" he asks.

It's a good point. In fact, it was then impossible to imagine how PCs would change the world's economics, politics and society in just 30 years. The eventual uses, once the technology developed, were far from trivial.

COGNIRON set out on the same principle, given that society is constantly evolving, and the project partners hope to tackle some of the key issues that need to be resolved for the development of a cognitive robot companion, which could be used as assistants for disabled and elderly people or the general population. Who wouldn't like, for instance, their breakfast ready when they awoke, deliveries accepted while they were at work and their apartment cleaned upon their return?

The key issue governing these tasks is intelligence and developing intelligent behaviour on a number of fronts, the corner stone and main work of COGNIRON.

Organised around seven key research themes, the project studies multimodal dialogues, detection and understanding of human activity, social behaviour and embodied interaction, skill and task learning, spatial cognition and multimodal situation awareness, as well as intentionality and initiative. Finally, the seventh research theme, systems levels integration and evaluation, focuses on integrating all the other themes into a cohesive, cogitating whole.

Dr Chatila summarises the purpose of the seven themes. "Research breaks down into four capacities required by a cognitive robot companion: perception and cognition of environment; learning by observation; decision making; communication and interaction with humans."

Decision-making is a fundamental capability of a cognitive robot whether it's for autonomous deliberation, task execution, or for human-robot collaborative problem solving. It also integrates the three other capacities: interaction, learning and understanding the environment.

"Getting a robot to move around a human, without hurting them, and while making them feel comfortable, is a vital task," says Dr Chatila.

To work, it means a robot must pick up subtle cues. If, for instance, a human leans forward to get up, the robot needs to understand the purpose of that movement. What's more, much of human communication is non-verbal, and such cognitive machines need to pick up on that if they are to be useful, rather than irritating.

Even in verbal communication there are many habits robots need to acquire that are so second nature to humans that we never think of them. "For example, turn taking in conversation. Humans take turns to [talk], we need to find a way to make robots do the same," says Dr Chatila. A robot that keeps interrupting would get on an owner's nerves.

To tackle the problems, the researchers took inspiration from natural cognition as it occurs in humans, which is one reason why a cognitive robot companion needs to be able to learn.

Despite its highly ambitious aims the project made enormous progress and the team feel confident they will meet their criteria for success: three concrete implementations, the so-called ‘Key Experiments’ being implemented on real robots for the integration, demonstration and validation of the research results.

One experiment will feature a robot building a model of its environment in the course of a home tour, another will feature a curious and proactive robot that will be able to infer that a human needs something to be done, while the third one will demonstrate a robot's ability to learn by imitation and repetition.

In fact, the project has already partially implemented all three experiments, eighteen months before the project ends. "The three experiments are an expression of our achievement in research and integration," says Dr Chatila.

He emphasises that this is a promising start, but it will be a very long road before a fully functional Cognitive Robot Companion will be realised and potentially commercialised. COGNIRON will advance the state-of-the-art and understanding of the different components required but will not yet allow a fully integrated robot endowed with all the required capacities to be built.

Source: Based on information from COGNIRON

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.lu/
http://istresults.cordis.europa.eu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht New software speeds origami structure designs
12.10.2017 | Georgia Institute of Technology

nachricht Seeing the next dimension of computer chips
11.10.2017 | Osaka University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ocean atmosphere rife with microbes

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

Neutrons observe vitamin B6-dependent enzyme activity useful for drug development

17.10.2017 | Life Sciences

NASA finds newly formed tropical storm lan over open waters

17.10.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>