Common Sense for Robot Navigation

Rexroth makes the best motion control systems on the planet. You want something to move from precisely point A to precisely point B? Rexroth systems can do it every time.

As robots take on more tasks, though specifying point A and point B, however precisely, no longer does the job. Delivery robots need to learn things and apply them in multiple environments. You can’t specifically identify every possible point B if the basic task is to leave the box on the porch.

In industrial settings, you’re better off. You can usually specify point B to within an inch of its life. As robots extend their actions during the pandemic, though, they may need a different kind of approach. Bread-packing robots, for example, need to put bread gently into pallets that have room for more loaves of bread. Finding the pallets, recognizing the available space, and gently setting down the bread instead of crushing and smashing it — those are the skills these robots need.

Common sense

A new “common sense” machine learning scheme is going with homes as their starting point. After all, if you need to get to the refrigerator, you can feel pretty confident that it’s in the kitchen. So the researchers (from Carnegie Mellon and DARPA) figure that it will help to identify a kitchen table and to distinguish it from a coffee table or a sofa.

Rather than mapping a space by the obstacles in it and generating a path based on those obstacles, the robots can learn that a fridge is usually in the kitchen, identify the other objects that are usually in a kitchen, and make a plan to go to the kitchen. Then, wherever the kitchen is in an unfamiliar house, the robot will have a method for finding it and then finding the fridge.

This kind of “semantic” (that is, meaning-driven) learning may allow robots to perform tasks that currently stymie automation.

In the meantime, we can help when you need service or support for your Rexroth drive & control systems. We’re specialists in Rexroth electric industrial motion control machinery, so we can help you get your facility back up and running fast. That’s common sense.

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