MIT Technology Review takes a look at work by Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University enabling two types of robots with very different capabilities to communicate.
They are proving to be much more efficient as well as cheaper, as not every robot has to be made to do every task well.
The engineers aim was to develop a system where one robot’s strengths could make up for the other’s shortcomings by working together.
The robots talk wirelessly, using a common domain language to convey events as they occur, and, crucially, they also provide feedback to each other, which allows them to work together even when things don’t go exactly as planned. When the two robots coӧrdinate, they have three options for deciding what to do next: one robot can tell the other robot to wait until a certain moment to act; one can instruct the other to repetitively carry out the same activity until a particular moment; or one robot can simply ask the other what to do.
Researchers say this is a genuine “conversation” as “the robots can adjust to each other and optimise their work”.
The development is a step forward from previous communications systems that have have either involved robots of the same type, or robots acting in fixed scenarios.
The trick to adaptive, diverse robot teams is to have the bots interact sparingly, says Veloso. The individual robots work independently until they absolutely must interact to complete a task, leaving fewer opportunities for mistakes and providing more flexibility.The Baxter robot’s arm delivers a candy to the CoBot mobile robot
Originally published by Cosmos as Teaching robots to talk to each other
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.