Robots Bring Couple Together, Engagement Ensues

Yes, you really can find love at an IEEE conference

1 min read
Robots Bring Couple Together, Engagement Ensues
With the Able Arm, a prototype low-cost robot arm.

He is the director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab and a co-founder of Coursera. She is a surgical roboticist at Johns Hopkins University and is launching a new robot start-up.

In 2009, the two researchers, Andrew Ng and Carol Reiley, met at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Kobe, Japan, and, as Carol puts it, "sparks flew."

Today they've decided to announce their engagement here on IEEE Spectrum, and it only seemed natural to do it with a robot-themed photo shoot. 

With the autonomous helicopter Andrew and his students developed.

With a Pioneer robot (STAIR, the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Robot, is visible in the back).

With Stanford's PR2.

All of us here at Spectrum wish Andrew and Carol the very very best, and we hope that their life together will be filled with happiness.

And robots.

Photos: Colson Griffith

The Conversation (0)

How the U.S. Army Is Turning Robots Into Team Players

Engineers battle the limits of deep learning for battlefield bots

11 min read
Robot with threads near a fallen branch

RoMan, the Army Research Laboratory's robotic manipulator, considers the best way to grasp and move a tree branch at the Adelphi Laboratory Center, in Maryland.

Evan Ackerman
LightGreen

This article is part of our special report on AI, “The Great AI Reckoning.

"I should probably not be standing this close," I think to myself, as the robot slowly approaches a large tree branch on the floor in front of me. It's not the size of the branch that makes me nervous—it's that the robot is operating autonomously, and that while I know what it's supposed to do, I'm not entirely sure what it will do. If everything works the way the roboticists at the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL) in Adelphi, Md., expect, the robot will identify the branch, grasp it, and drag it out of the way. These folks know what they're doing, but I've spent enough time around robots that I take a small step backwards anyway.

The robot, named RoMan, for Robotic Manipulator, is about the size of a large lawn mower, with a tracked base that helps it handle most kinds of terrain. At the front, it has a squat torso equipped with cameras and depth sensors, as well as a pair of arms that were harvested from a prototype disaster-response robot originally developed at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a DARPA robotics competition. RoMan's job today is roadway clearing, a multistep task that ARL wants the robot to complete as autonomously as possible. Instead of instructing the robot to grasp specific objects in specific ways and move them to specific places, the operators tell RoMan to "go clear a path." It's then up to the robot to make all the decisions necessary to achieve that objective.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less