GA Tech Professor Mike Stilman, who studies robot navigation among movable obstacles, is studying the cognitive processes that enable humans to grab arbitrary objects and find creative new uses for them. Future robots might scan their environments, see something on the ground, and quickly run through a list of possible uses for the thing. Maybe it sees a chair and realizes chairs have height, so it can use the chair to climb up to reach a window to escape a burning room. Or maybe it sees a metal pipe and realizes it can work as a lever to lift something heavy, freeing a human trapped under it. Stilman said the goal is to create machines that operate like MacGyver, the '80s TV character.