Soon, robots that ask for help to recognise objects

September 18th, 2009 - 12:19 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Sep 18 (ANI): Researchers at Willow Garage, a robotics company in Palo Alto, California, are working on robots that can be trained to ask humans for help to identify different objects.

If successful, the project will mark an important step towards the creation of machines that will be capable of operating with consistent autonomy.Research in Artificial Intelligence (AI) has long been trying to solve the problems associated with object recognition.

While computers can be taught to recognise simple objects, such as pens or mugs, they often make mistakes when the lighting conditions or viewing angle change.

Thus, it becomes difficult to create robots that can navigate safely around buildings and interact with objects- a problem Willow Garage encountered when building its Personal Robot 2 (PR2).

Thus, Alex Sorokin, a computer scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who collaborates with Willow Garage, decided to build a system that allows PR2 to ask humans for help.

The system uses Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, an online marketplace that pairs up workers with employers that have simple tasks they need completing.

The robot takes a photo of the object it doesn’t recognise and sends it to Mechanical Turk.

Workers can then use Sorokin’s software to draw an outline around an object in the image and attach a name to it, getting paid between 3 and 15 cents for each image they process.

In initial tests, the robot moved through Willow Garage’s offices, sending images to be processed every few seconds. Labelled images started coming back a few minutes later.

The accuracy rate was only 80 per cent, but Sorokin said that this could be improved by paying other workers to verify that the responses are valid.

According to Sorokin, his system will help robots learn about new environments.

Sorokin said that the next step for the programmers is to enable PR2 to make sense of the human responses and then act upon them. (ANI)

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