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Assitive Robot Adapts to People, New Places RRS feed

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  • MIT researchers have developed Domo, a robot that can both interact with humans and pickup unknown objects and place them on a shelf. Domo represents the kind of technology that could one day assist the elderly or work in fields such as agriculture or space travel. "The real potential of robots in the future is going to be realized when they can do many types of manual tasks," says Domo contributor Aaron Edsinger. Unlike assembly machine robots, intelligent robots would not have to be placed in a controlled environment. "We want the robot to adapt to the world, not the world to adapt to the robot," Edsinger says. Domo's cameras relay information to 12 computers that analyze what is seen and choose what to focus on, such as unexpected movements or a human face. If the robot is told to place an object on a shelf, it uses one hand to feel for the shelf and the other to reach for the object. Once Domo has a hold of the object, it finds the tip of the object and wiggles it a bit in order to understand the size of the object and the best way to transfer it to the other hand or to place it on the shelf. To make it safe for human interaction, Edsinger's team put springs in Domo's arms, hands, and neck that let it feel pressure when a person touches it. The researchers believe that robots and humans working together could do things that neither could do separately. "If you can offload some parts of the process and let the robot handle the manual skills, that is a nice synergistic relationship," he says. "The key is that it has to be more useful or valuable than the effort put into it." Rather than having a single robot housekeeper, the home of the future is expected to have many specialized robots.
    Thursday, April 12, 2007 7:00 AM