Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

BabyBot takes first steps

03.05.2006


Babybot learn to take first steps ©ADAPT


BabyBot, a robot modelled on the torso of a two year-old child, is helping researchers take the first, tottering steps towards understanding human perception, and could lead to the development of machines that can perceive and interact with their environment.

The researchers used BabyBot to test a model of the human sense of ’presence’, a combination of senses like sight, hearing and touch. The work could have enormous applications in robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine perception. The research is being funded under the European Commission’s FET (Future and Emerging Technologies) initiative of the IST programme, as part of the ADAPT project.

"Our sense of presence is essentially our consciousness," says Giorgio Metta, Assistant Professor at the Laboratory for Integrated Advanced Robotics at Italy’s Genoa University and ADAPT project coordinator.



Modelling, or defining, consciousness remains one of the intractable problems of both science and philosophy. "The problem is duality, where does the brain end and the mind begin, the question is whether we need to consider them as two different aspects of reality," says Metta.

Neuroscientists would tend to develop theories that fit the observed phenomena, but engineers take a practical approach. Their objective is to make it work.

To that end, ADAPT first studied how the perception of self in the environment emerges during the early stages of human development. So developmental psychologists tested 6 to 18 month-old infants. "We could control a lot of the parameters to see how young children perceive and interact with the world around them. What they do when interacting with their mothers or strangers, what they see, the objects they interact with, for example," says Metta.

From this work they developed a ’process’ model of consciousness. This assumes that objects in the environment are not real physical objects as such; rather they are part of a process of perception.

The practical upshot is that, while other models describe consciousness as perception, cognition then action, the ADAPT model sees it as action, cognition then perception. And it’s how babies act, too.

When a baby sees an object that is not the final perception of it. A young child will then try to reach the object. If the child fails, the object is too far away. This teaches the child perspective. If the child does reach the object, he or she will try to grasp it, or taste it or shake it. These actions all teach the child about the object and govern its perception of it. It is a cumulative process rather than a single act.

Our expectations also have enormous influence on our perception. For example, if you believe an empty pot is full, you will lift the pot very quickly. Your muscles unconsciously prepare for the expected resistance, and put more force than is required into lifting; everyday proof that our expectations govern our relationship with the environment.

Or at least that’s the model. "It’s not validated. It’s a starting point to understand the problem," says Metta.

The team used BabyBot to test it, providing a minimal set of instructions, just enough for BabyBot to act on the environment. For the senses, the team used sound, vision and touch, and focused on simple objects within the environment.

There were two experiments, one where BabyBot could touch an object and second one where it could grasp the object. This is more difficult than it sounds. If you look at a scene, you unconsciously segment the scene into separate elements.

This is a highly developed skill, but by simply interacting with the environment the BabyBot did its engineering parents proud when it demonstrated that it could learn to successfully separate objects from the background.

Once the visual scene was segmented, the robot could start learning about specific properties of objects useful, for instance, to grasp them. Grasping opens a wider world to the robot and to young infants too.

The work was successful, but it was a very early proof-of-principle for their approach. The sense of presence, or consciousness, is a huge problem and ADAPT did not seek to solve it in one project. They made a very promising start and many of the partners will take part in a new IST project, called ROBOTCUB.

In ROBOTCUB the engineers will refine their robot so that it can see, hear and touch its environment. Eventually it will be able to crawl, too.

"Ultimately, this work will have a huge range of applications, from virtual reality, robotics and AI, to psychology and the development of robots as tools for neuro-scientific research," concludes Metta.

Tara Morris | alfa
Further information:
http://istresults.cordis.europa.eu.int/index.cfm/section/news/tpl/article/BrowsingType/Features/ID/81616
http://istresults.cordis.lu/

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Integrated lab-on-a-chip uses smartphone to quickly detect multiple pathogens
19.10.2017 | University of Illinois College of Engineering

nachricht Scientists develop machine-learning method to predict the behavior of molecules
11.10.2017 | New York University

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

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

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>