AI for Robotics
Robots are starting to make their way into our homes but there is a long way to go before they become autonomous enough to do a variety of chores, particularly if we require them to do such chores in changing conditions and difficult environments.
One reason for this lack of autonomy is that robots simply do not have the ability to acquire and apply common sense knowledge or the ability to use this knowledge to accomplish tasks without detailed instructions. To leave a room, humans typically do not need a map. Pinpointing where the door is situated is enough to know where to go. When we want to lift a glass of water, we do not need a detailed physical model describing the conservation of energy or the laws of gravity. In both cases, we use our common sense, developed from our past experience.
This capacity for common sense is what we are striving to teach robots, and we would like robots to acquire it, not just from ‘past experience’, but also by taking appropriate exploratory actions. This capacity will allow robots to operate in real-world environments, performing useful tasks in collaboration with people.
To reach this goal, we have identified the following critical abilities a robot needs to acquire to move from highly-controlled environments into the real world.
– Robust navigation and localization in dynamic environments with and without relying on precise maps or high-precision 3D perception.
– Understanding the meaning of and the relations between the entities in the robot’s surrounding.
– Learning to accomplish a task with minimal supervision from human operators.
– Interaction with humans by, e.g. understanding human language or gestures.
These abilities are possible with advances in AI, particularly in areas such as perception, weakly-supervised learning, and reinforcement learning. Using these abilities, robots should be able to cope with an ever-changing world, navigate in dynamic environments, interact with us and even learn from us. They will quite simply become part of our everyday life.
The AI for Robotics theme comprises work from multiple research groups.