University of Washington development psychologists and computer scientists say developing robots that learn like children learn is the future of robotics. These researchers say that robots can benefit from gradually and demonstrative learning just as children do when observing and copying other humans. Children naturally learn quickly and through repetition due to their curiosity and desire to explore the world around them. In this same way robots can be made to want to do the same thing.
But according to this new study by the University of Washington, robots can learn through exploring, observing a human perform the task and then coming up with a way of their own to do the same task on their own. A UW professor Rajesh Rao who belongs to computer science and engineering department said that this can prove to be a stepping stone in building robots that can learn from humans like infants do. This includes teaching a robot how to wash dishes, fold clothes and do other tasks.
Rao’s team tested this probabilistic model with two computer simulated experiments. In the first one, a robot learns to follow a human’s gaze by assuming that its head movements are governed in the same way as that of the human. It observes the human looking across the room and then tries to figure out where that human is looking.
In another experiment, an actual robot learns to imitate human actions like picking and moving toy food objects to different spots over a table. During the experiment, the robot sometimes used a different path to move the object while keeping the beginning and ending points similar to that by the human.
The future of robots is still up in the air but you can bet we’ll be using them much more often at some point. What do you think of robots that learn like children? Let us know in the comments below or on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.