The robot has Huge potential Help people with limited mobility, including models that can help the infirm to put on clothes. However, this is a particularly challenging task that requires dexterity, safety and speed. Now, scientists at MIT CSAIL have developed an algorithm that strikes a balance by allowing harmless effects instead of allowing any effects at all as before.
Humans are born to adapt and adapt to other humans, but robots must learn all of this from scratch. For example, it is relatively easy for a person to dress others because we instinctively know where the clothes are placed, how people bend their arms, how the fabric reacts, and so on. However, the robot must be programmed with all this information.
In the past, for safety reasons, algorithms completely prevented robots from having any impact on humans. However, this may cause the so-called “freezing robot” problem, where the robot basically stops moving and cannot complete the tasks it set.
To solve this problem, the MIT CSAIL team led by PhD student Shen Li developed an algorithm to redefine robot motion safety by allowing “safe collisions” on the basis of avoiding collisions. As long as the impact of robots on humans is small, the robots can make harmless contact with humans to complete their tasks.
“Developing algorithms to prevent physical damage without unnecessarily affecting mission efficiency is a key challenge,” Li said. “By allowing robots to have a harmless effect on humans, our method can find effective robot trajectories and provide safety for humans.”
For simple dressing tasks, even if the person is doing other activities (such as checking the phone), the system can work normally, as shown in the video above. It achieves this by combining multiple models for different situations, rather than relying on a single model as before. Zackory Erickson of Carnegie Mellon University said: “This multifaceted approach combines ensemble theory, human perception safety constraints, human motion prediction and feedback control to achieve safe human-computer interaction.”
This research is still in its early stages, but these ideas can be used in other areas besides dressing. “This research may be applied to various assistive robot scenarios. The ultimate goal is to allow robots to provide safer physical assistance for the disabled,” Eriksson said.
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