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Robot Learns to Play With Lego By Watching Human Teachers

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Rocket science, with Legos.

A robot that observed two experienced humans wearing motion tracking tags as they built a Lego rocket was able, after just one session, to partner with a human to build the rocket. It could also cope with some blocks not being exactly where it expected to

Credit: David Vogt/Arizona State University, TU Freiburg

Researchers from the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology in Germany have trained a robot to play with Legos by having it observe two humans wearing motion-tracking tags as they built a Lego rocket.

After just one session, the robot was able to partner with a human to build the rocket, and it could adjust when some blocks were not exactly where the robot expected to find them.

The project is one of several recent examples of teaching robots through human demonstration. For example, earlier this month, Google researchers taught a robot how to open a door by physically guiding it through each step.

"We have a lot of intuition about how various manipulation skills can be performed, and it only seems natural that transferring this intuition to robots can help them learn these skills a lot faster," say the Google researchers.

The Freiberg team thinks learning through human demonstrations will make robots better able to assist humans with skilled factory work.

"Ideally, humans and robots together should be able to do something that, individually or separately, they wouldn't have been able to do alone," says Arizona State University researcher Heni Ben Amor, who contributed to the project.

From New Scientist
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