Robots can quickly and easily learn new things through crowdsourcing, says a new study done by a University of Washington research team. In other words, robots that use the internet to look up information are smarter. “We’re trying to create a method for a robot to seek help from the whole world when it’s puzzled by something,” said Rajesh Rao, an associate professor of computer science and engineering and director of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering at the UW. “This is a way to go beyond just one-on-one interaction between a human and a robot by also learning from other humans around the world.”
In order for robots to learn new skills faster, all they need is a little help from their Internet friends. At the 2014 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Hong Kong, computer scientists from the University of Washington showed that crowdsourcing information from the online community may be a quick and effective way of teaching robots how to complete tasks, like setting a table or tending a garden. Yes, let’s use the web to hasten their journey to self awareness. According to the scientists, robots can learn how to perform tasks by imitating humans, but such an approach can take a lot of time. For example, showing a robot how to load a dishwasher may require many repetitious lessons to demonstrate how to hold different plates or load things in properly. With this new technique, the robot can turn to the web to get additional input on how to correctly complete the tasks.