We've seen some pretty talented robot bartenders, but we still have to go to them for a drink. What kind of a future is this? Can't the robot come and pour us a beer by now?
Sure! But that's not quite as easy as just having a robot walk (or roll) over and pour a beer into a glass. If you, say, move the glass at the last minute (not cool, dude, but okay), the robot could keep right on pouring. No, a great robot server needs to be able to look slightly into the future.
Using the PR2 robot, which seems to be a quick learner and has already done some beer-retrieving work in the past (sidenote: we want one), a Cornell team at the Personal Robotics Lab has taught the machine to predict human interactions, then base its own actions on what people are most likely to do. So, armed with a Microsoft Kinect, the Cornell 'bot determines what's in its frame, then draws on a video archive showing how humans will usually interact with certain objects.
Maybe, for example, the robot is planning on pouring you a beer. The robot sees you, a book, and a glass—then it sees you reaching out your hand. The robot, based on a set of algorithms, can pause and wait to see if you go for the book or the glass, and if you do go for the glass, wait until you put it back to fill you up.
Although that is clearly the most important function, the robot can do some stuff besides pouring beer. In the video here, you can see it predict when someone is heading to the fridge, then eagerly route them off and open the door for them.
So far, the inventors report, the robot has a pretty decent success rate: 82 percent correct when looking ahead one second, 71 percent for three seconds, and 57 percent for 10 seconds. Not too bad, even though that's a bummer for the unlucky few who got their beer spilled because of incorrect predictions.
"I have detected that your girlfriend just dumped you, I'll pour you a beer." -- "I see that your bank account is low and you have bills due, I'll pour you a beer." -- "I noticed you have a stressful job, I'll make sure there is a fresh cold beer waiting for you when you get home." -- Just what we need, a future where robots turn us all into alcoholics. I'd like to see a robot that can detect when you are craving a hit of crack, and see how popular that is. Maybe it can even text message your crack dealer and wire them some money from your bank account automatically for a crack delivery service, knowing that you will be craving it soon. Might have to wait for the iCrackBot v2.0 for that feature.
@msr042377 You don't get what this algorithm has to offer at all, do you? Nothing was said about detecting emotions or situations, only movement paths.
@i_gots_paws -- To me, the article is about an algorithm that gives a predicted response to a predicted behavior. But I don't like the path where this type of algorithm is headed. Once humans become conditioned to a predicted response, it erodes at our own individual freedom. Lets say that for the last 10 years, every Friday at 8PM, i go to the fridge and get a beer. The robot notices this pattern and soon does the task for me. One Friday, I decide to quit drinking, but the robot doesn't know this. So it goes to the fridge anyways and gets and pours the beer. And there it is, sitting in front of me, tempting me. That's the problem with automatic predictions. It's a form of conditioning. Having an algorithm that turns on the lights and adjusts the room temperature when you walk in is one thing. Having it serve alcohol is another entirely. But I'm not going to call you out and say that you didn't "get" the article. I just have my interpretation of it and you have yours.
As exciting as it maybe to automate receiving a beer, I just like a automatic toilet butt wiper for myself, please. Is that too much to ask, hmmm?
@msr042377 While there is the possibility of storing the previously recorded movement paths, and then re-using them in similar situations, this becoming common place in people homes is almost guaranteed never to happen. The cost of the robot itself is immense, then you need to realize that there are no actual practical uses for this algorithm outside of industry and novelty. And nothing was said explicitly about it using stored information to predict certain actions or behaviors at certain times. It is a possibility, but I doubt it will be done because of the lack of demand for it.
@i_got_paws -- Article: "...Although that is clearly the most important function, the robot can do some stuff besides pouring beer. In the video here, you can see it PREDICT when someone is heading to the fridge, then eagerly route them off and open the door for them." -- yeah, as you say, "nothing was said explicitly about it using stored information to predict certain actions or behaviors at certain times." -- Maybe you should re-read the article. But I get the impression you just like to argue with people online so you can feel better about yourself. Good luck with that...