MIT researchers develop robot that can learn human reflexes
Character animation is hard at the best of times. Hollywood and games industry animators long ago turned away from traditional animation for creating large quantities of realistic character movement, opting instead to motion capture such movement directly from human actors. The challenge gold hermes replica belt
is even greater for roboticists, whose output must not only look natural but stay standing while doing so. Robot movementis a constant struggle between aesthetics and practicality, speed and balance, and specifically and intentionally coding every little aspect of robotic locomotion is taking a really long time to give us an all purposebipedal robot. So, why not turn to motion capture once again?
Now, MIT researchers have a bid to do just that, with a robot called HERMES. What sets HERMES apart from other bipedal robots is that its movement is controlled not by an AI program but directly, by a human pilot. It calls out to recent movies likePacific Rim, as well as just about every manga ever: at MIT, human beings are robots with their physical arms and legs. What sets this idea apart from a simple piloting scheme is that not only does the pilot control input get translated into movement by the robot but the robot movements and internal forces are fed back to the pilot through a suit of small actuators.
The feedback mechanism lets the pilot feel large scale forces acting on the robot,so they can use their natural human reflexes to offset these forces and maintain balance. The primary demonstration is one of punching through a wall; without the human feedback control, the robot can punch through the wall, but then falls forward due to the violent shift in its weight, while the human pilot can push against this momentum with leg and back muscles, keeping themselves and the robot upright.
PhD student Joao Ramos demonstrates the Balance Feedback Interface, a system that enables an operator to control the balance and movements of a robot, through an exoskeleton and motorized platform. Photo: Melanie Gonick/MIT
Unlike animated characters, however, robots need to be able to learn therulesfor movement, rather than thespecific movements themselves. HERMES isn just mimicking the movements, or recording them to be replayed later, but taking note of which compensatory movementswere needed to offset which situations. It the sort of data set that will be needed to build much more robust robotic movement suites, lettingcaptured information inform and adjust movement algorithms. to learn how much grip pressure should be applied which faced which how much resistance to grip pressure. Once they collected enough information, the researchers say they want to start integrating human control with true autonomy presumably with the goal of somedayphasing out the human altogether.
This is an innovative approach to robot movement. It something that hasn been tried by the likes of Honda, with its famous Asimo robot, nor by Boston Dynamics with ATLAS. The robot can take the most useful elements of human instinct, while applying those insights with inhuman strength and dexterity; the robot might only be able to safely punch through a wall thanks to the human pilot, but that pilot probably couldn punch through the wall with only theirown physical strength.
What this essentially allows is for a human to do in real time, with natural physical instincts, what a programmer would otherwise have to do artificially, over many iterations of an experiment. A human being can dynamically adjust grip strength in response to feedback, applyingthe perfect level of tension without having to have picked up that object ever before. With an accurate enough accounting of human movementin response to robot sensation, robots could acquire that sort of versatility, too.