"Robot learns to play with Lego by watching human teachersDAVID VOGT’S son loves Lego. As they played together one day, the robotics professor had an idea: could he teach a robot to put the blocks together?
“We thought it would be funny to make a robot that could do the same thing I am doing with my son,” says Vogt, who is at the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology in Germany.
So Vogt and his colleagues brought an industrial robot arm to the lab. Like a child playing for the first time, the robot – equipped with a Kinect depth camera – observed two experienced humans wearing motion tracking tags as they built a Lego rocket. After just one session, the robot was able to partner with a human to build the rocket. It could also cope with some blocks not being exactly where it expected to find them.
Humans learn how to do lots of things by watching someone else, but programming a new skill into robots is difficult, says Aude Billard at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne. We know intuitively how to do certain tasks, but struggle to express that knowledge as programming.
Instead, engineers have found ways to show robots what to do, rather than tell them. Some remotely control the robot through its first few tries, getting a sense of its experience using the buzz of haptic feedback. And last year, a robot at the University of Maryland started learning to cook by watching YouTube videos of people in the kitchen.
Read the full article at its source: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23230973-600-robot-learns-to-play-with-lego-by-watching-human-teachers/