A team of researchers from China’s Jinjiang University and the University of Edinburgh has taught a robot a fundamentally human trait: learning from mistakes through trial and error.
Jeuyjing, the robot dog created for the experiment, uses the memory of real-world experiences to react to external stimuli it encounters. This is a departure from traditional robotics systems which relied on pre-programmed commands and allows for dynamic learned behaviour.
The robot dog, whose hardware was developed at Jinjiang University, taught itself to recover and stand up after being pushed over. Ordinarily, a seemingly simple task like this would be carried out by a robot that has hard code fed to it, dictating the precise movements needed to navigate obstacles or, in this case, move its actuators (robot limbs) to stand up. Jeuyjing, however, learns its functions from scenarios the researchers run – essentially learning as it goes by tapping into its memory of similar experiences.
Co-author of the paper discussing Jeuyjing, Zhibin Li, describes the new robotic dog as having being programmed with eight algorithmic ‘experts’. These experts would be responsible for learning complex movement sequences through experience, for example, standing up after being toppled or walking and maintaining balance on a loose or slippery surface.
The robot dog uses an internal digital merit and demerit system. It was created to refine Jeuyjing’s skills. Merits are issued internally when an action carried out is considered satisfactory, while a digital demerit is issued if Jeuyjing does something considered non-ideal – much like your organic dog at home, this reinforces optimal behaviour.
Biomedical engineer and quadrupedal roboticist, Ali Marjaninejad, said robots programmed to perform tasks like Jueyjing could be trained much faster, increasing efficiency for practical applications.
China is the fastest growing and largest robotics market on the planet, according to Joe Gemma, the president of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR). He said the Asian superpower is experiencing an unparalleled rise in the sector and may soon leave the world behind.
China may account for 45% of the industrial robot shipments by the end of this year, according to a report by the Robotics Research Group. The robotics industry features heavily in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s latest five-year plan.https://www.wired.com/story/