*This was a HYBRID Event with in-person attendance in Levine 307 and Virtual attendance via Zoom
Today’s robots are very brittle in their intelligence. This follows from a legacy of industrial robotics where robots pick and place known parts repetitively. For humanoid robots to function as servants in the home and in hospitals they will need to demonstrate higher intelligence, and must be able to function in ways that go beyond the stiff prescribed programming of their industrial counterparts. A new approach to service robotics is discussed here. The affordances of common objects such as chairs, cups, etc., are defined in advance. When a new object is encountered, it is scanned and a virtual version is put into a simulation wherein the robot “imagines’’ how the object can be used. In this way, robots can reason about objects that they have not encountered before, and for which they have no training using. Videos of physical demonstrations will illustrate this paradigm, which the presenter has developed with his students Hongtao Wu, Meng Xin, Sipu Ruan, and others.