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 Ultra-precise chip-scale sensor detects unprecedentedly small changes at the nanoscale
18.01.2017 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

nachricht Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation
18.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Algorithmen und Wissenschaftliches Rechnen SCAI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Helmholtz International Fellow Award for Sarah Amalia Teichmann

20.01.2017 | Awards Funding

An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk

20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ion treatments for cardiac arrhythmia — Non-invasive alternative to catheter-based surgery

20.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>