ASKING someone for help is second nature for humans, and now it could help robots overcome one of the thorniest problems in artificial intelligence.
That's the thinking behind a project at Willow Garage, a robotics company in Palo Alto, California. Researchers there are training a robot to ask humans to identify objects it doesn't recognise. If successful, it could be an important step in developing machines capable of operating with consistent autonomy.
Object recognition has long troubled AI researchers. While computers can be taught to recognise simple objects, such as pens or mugs, they often make mistakes when the lighting conditions or viewing angle change. This makes it difficult to create robots that can navigate safely around buildings and interact with objects, a problem Willow Garage encountered when building its Personal Robot 2 (PR2).
Where AI struggles, humans excel, finding this sort of recognition task almost effortless. So Alex Sorokin, a computer scientist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who collaborates with Willow Garage, decided to take advantage of this by building a system that allows PR2 to ask humans for help.
Read more here: http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg2 ... -help.html