Scientists create a robot that can learn to understand itself and the world around it. ScienceDaily


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Every fashion-conscious or athletic person knows that our body image can be inaccurate or unrealistic. However, it is an important piece information that affects how we function in this world. Your brain plans ahead to ensure you don’t trip, bump, or fall over when you dress up or play ball.

Robots are following the lead of humans who acquire their body-models as infants. Columbia Engineering announced today that it has created a robot capable of learning a complete model of its body without human intervention. A new study was published by Science RoboticsThe researchers show how the robot built a kinematic model and used that to plan motion, achieve goals and avoid obstacles in various situations. It could even recognize and compensate for injuries to its body.

Robot watches itself as if it were an infant exploring a hall full of mirrors

Researchers set up a robot arm within a circle of five video cameras. The robot watched as the cameras reflected its movements. The robot behaved like an infant, exploring its surroundings through a hall of mirrors. After three hours, it stopped. The robot was stopped by its internal deep neural network, which had completed learning the relationship between the robot’s motor actions and the volume of its environment.

Hod Lipson, professor in mechanical engineering and director at Columbia’s Creative Machines Lab where the work was completed, said, “We were really curious about how the robot imagined itself.” “But you cannot just look into a neuronal network. It’s not a black box. The self-image began to emerge after many attempts at visualization. Lipson said that it was a gently flickering cloud which appeared to engulf a robot’s three dimensional body. The flickering cloud followed the robot’s movements. The robot’s self model was accurate to within 1% of its workspace.

Autonomous systems that are self-reliant will be possible with the help of robots that can self-model.

Robots being able to model themselves without the assistance of engineers is crucial for several reasons. It saves labor and allows the robot to maintain its own wear and tear, as well as detect and compensate damage. These authors believe that autonomous systems must be more self-reliant. For example, a factory robot could detect if something is not moving correctly and either compensate or call for help.

Boyuan Chen was the first author of the study and is currently an assistant professor at Duke University. He said that “We humans clearly possess a notion about self.” Close your eyes and imagine your body moving if you took some action. For example, extending your arms outwards or taking a step backwards. Our brains have a notion about self. This self-model tells us how our environment changes and what volume we are occupying.

Robots are self-aware

Lipson has been searching for decades to give robots self-awareness. He explained that self-modeling is a primitive type of self-awareness. “A robot, animal or human with a precise self-model can perform better in the real world. It can make better decisions and has an evolutionary advantage.”

The risks, controversies, and limits of granting machines greater autonomy via self-awareness are all well known by the researchers. Lipson readily admits that the self-awareness demonstrated here isn’t as impressive as it is in humans. But, you have to start somewhere. It is important to take time and be patient in order to reap the benefits and minimize the risk.


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