The July 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Robot Puts Box On Head

iCub explores head-box interactions

1 min read
Robot Puts Box On Head

Robots have a tendency to move rather a lot like, um, robots. How dare they. The smooth and natural motions that we humans are so proud of comes from a combination of many different motions all at once: if you pick something up, you're generally not just using your arm like a robot does, but rather, subtly moving your arms, wrists, hands, torso, and even your head. With a new movement algorithm, iCub is learning to move in a much more human-like manner, even with complex motions.

Yes, at least, iCub has learned how to put things on its head. Brilliant.

You may have noticed that the beginning of the video that it was the recipient of the AAAI 2013 Shakey Award for Best Student Video. What's a Shakey? Why, I'm glad you asked! Meet Shakey, who was pioneering task-planning and route-finding at the Stanford Research Institute back in the 1960s:

Shakey is now retired, but you can find him chillin' at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

[ IM CLEVER ]

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

“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.

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

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