July 21, 2024
MIT Breakthrough Advances Robotic Dexterity: Robots Mimic Human Hands with Precision
AI

MIT Breakthrough Advances Robotic Dexterity: Robots Mimic Human Hands with Precision

The development of robotic dexterity and tactile perception has come a long way. Robots that can manipulate objects with the dexterity and accuracy of human hands are the desired outcome.

A ground-breaking work from the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) at MIT is at the forefront of this field of study. The group took on the difficult task of contact-rich manipulation, a field in which robots engage in complicated object interactions.

“The main challenge for planning through contact is the hybrid nature of contact dynamics,” the study notes.

AI employs the technique of reinforcement learning to train a model using incentives and penalties. To make the process of perceiving things simpler for living organisms and repeatable by a simple robot, researchers at this institution developed a form of reinforcement learning technique called “smoothing”.

Furthermore, their approach opens the door for more complex manipulation involving several contact points when paired with sampling-based motion planning. Or, to put it another way, handling an object with two hands. In comparison to the hours required by conventional RL techniques, their research has shown the ability to generate complex movements in just minutes.

In parallel, “Bi-Touch,” a ground-breaking dual-arm tactile robotic system, was unveiled by the University of Bristol in the UK.

“We propose a suite of bimanual manipulation tasks tailored towards tactile feedback: bi-pushing, bi-reorienting, and bi-gathering.” the research paper states.

Through sim-to-real deep reinforcement learning, this system may become proficient at complex manipulation tasks, including cooperatively pushing and deftly spinning items.

Researchers from Stanford University on the West Coast are utilizing human video demonstrations to teach machines difficult skills. Their approach avoids the requirement for pricey image translations between the human and robot domains by using masked eye-in-hand camera video.

“Videos of humans performing tasks, on the other hand, are much cheaper to collect since they eliminate the need for robotic teleoperation expertise,” the researchers contend in their academic paper.

In essence, these researchers are teaching their robots how to do some tasks by showing them in movies, just as people learn by watching YouTube tutorials, and their method has increased success rates in new test situations by an amazing 58% compared to typical robot data training.

Together, these trailblazing investigations open the door for robots that can manipulate objects deftly, on par with humans. Such innovations could completely alter industries, from production lines to operating rooms. Imagine a surgical procedure where an AI-powered robot helps the physician, improving accuracy and results.

Therefore, sci-fi fans need not worry. The existence of amiable assistant robots need not preclude the prospect of mankind coexisting with the odd, endearing robot snob. We should remain safe as long as the robots keep fighting with their human counterparts rather than eradicating them.

Image: Freepik

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