Kitchen Robots Graduate from Pancakes to Popcorn, Sandwiches
James and Rosie, a lovely robotic couple at the Technical University of Munich, are well known for their delicious pancake and sausage breakfast rituals. Now their skills have expanded to include both sandwiches and popcorn.
I hope you caught that little joke at 0:47 :)
Remember, none of these steps are pre-programmed. The robots are able to understand what steps go into something like making popcorn, and break those steps down into actions. Like, TUM's PR2 wasn't explicitly instructed to go turn the stove on and off: It just knew that popcorn requires using the stove, and that the stove needed to be turned on, so it did all the localization and navigation and manipulation of the stove controls all by itself.
The reason that this research is so important is that we don't want to have to be endlessly providing robots with instructions for every last thing that they're supposed to be doing. Giving robots the ability to take a complex task and autonomously infer all the intermediate tasks that it can then execute one at a time means that you'll be able to say, "Make me a sandwich" or "Do my laundry" or "Clean the house" or "You know what, go get everything done while I take a nap" and the robot will just go and do it, no questions asked.
If you're into this stuff as much as we are, you'll want to watch the 15 minute mostly real-time video (with echoey and accented narration), below.
[ IAS TUM ]