Robots like Spot and Atlas from Boston Dynamics meticulously coded to tackle the tasks we throw at them and the results can be impressive, but it can also leave them unable to adapt to situations that aren’t covered by their software. A joint team of researchers from Zhejiang University and the University of Edinburgh claim they’ve developed a better way with Jueying.
The dog, named Jueying by the researchers, was provided with the AI and then thrown into a set of scenarios to test its recoverability. They basically loaded an advanced, experimental AI into a robot dog and then literally pushed it around. And people actually think the Terminator movies are nothing but fanciful fiction…
The process began with a virtual representation of Jueying which was guided through (and over) a series of obstacles with software that consisted of eight AIs, each of which was trained in a different skill. These would then repeat the tasks over and over again and be rewarded with points when they successfully completed whatever task they were set. Seems a little basic to train a robot dog using Pavlovian methods but if it works, it works.
Once these separate AIs were all proficient in the skills they were tasked with, they were linked under a central AI that functioned as a kind of boss. This head honcho AI then controlled and prioritized the different sub-heads (if you will) to enable the dog to get up when it falls. It’s a pretty big deal, as the amount of minute movements and balance needed to pick itself up from any unknown position is far more detailed than most people think. The ability to stand unaided a small breakthrough in its own right.
Speaking to Wired, Zhibin Li, one of the researchers involved with the project, said that the intentions behind the program are to build, “more intelligent machines, which are able to combine flexible and adaptive skills on the fly, to handle a variety of different tasks that they have never seen before.” This should make it even easier for robots to act as waitrons and herd sheep.
Main Image: Yicai Global