Teaching Robots to ‘Feel with Their Eyes’

Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science:  At first glance, Alex Burka, a Ph.D. student in Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, looks like a ghostbuster. He walks into the Penn Bookstore strapped to a bulky orange backpack, holding a long, narrow instrument with various sensors attached.

The device looks exactly like the powerful nuclear accelerator backpack and particle thrower attachment used in the movies to attack and contain ghosts. For this reason, Burka and the other people who work with him jokingly refer to it as a “Proton Pack.”

But Burka is not in the business of hunting ghosts. Instead, he’s leading a project designed to enable robots to “feel with their eyes.” Using this Proton Pack, Burka hopes to build up a database of one thousand surfaces to help coach robots on how to identify objects and also to know what they’re made of and how best to handle them. The project is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of the National Robotics Initiative.

“We want to give robots common sense to be able to interact with the world like humans can,” Burka says. “To get that understanding for machines, we want a large dataset of materials and what they look and feel like. Then we can use some technologies emerging in AI, like deep learning, to take all that data and distill it down to models of the surface properties.”  Full Article:

Comments (0)

This post does not have any comments. Be the first to leave a comment below.


Post A Comment

You must be logged in before you can post a comment. Login now.

Featured Product

ST Robotics Develops the Workspace Sentry for Collaborative Robotics

ST Robotics Develops the Workspace Sentry for Collaborative Robotics

The ST Robotics Workspace Sentry robot and area safety system are based on a small module that sends an infrared beam across the workspace. If the user puts his hand (or any other object) in the workspace, the robot stops using programmable emergency deceleration. Each module has three beams at different angles and the distance a beam reaches is adjustable. Two or more modules can be daisy chained to watch a wider area. "A robot that is tuned to stop on impact may not be safe. Robots where the trip torque can be set at low thresholds are too slow for any practical industrial application. The best system is where the work area has proximity detectors so the robot stops before impact and that is the approach ST Robotics has taken," states President and CEO of ST Robotics David Sands.