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Robotics Science

Self-Introspecting Robot Learns to Walk 121

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the dreaming-of-electric-sheep dept.
StCredZero writes "There's something about these things that seems eerily alive! The Starfish Robot reminds me of the Grid Bugs from Tron. But it's very real, and apparently capable of self introspection. In fact, instead of being explicitly coded, it teaches itself how to walk, and it can even learn how to compensate for damage."
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Self-Introspecting Robot Learns to Walk

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  • by doombringerltx (1109389) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @10:46AM (#20433589)
    but come on! "Update 24-Nov-2006:"
  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:41AM (#20433939) Homepage

    First, get past the blogodreck to the actual work. [cornell.edu] (Slashdot editors missed a blog troll again.) Also, this work is several years old. The papers are from 2004 to 2006.

    The original article says that the robot has "tilt and angle sensors in all its joints", but that's wrong. It only has one central tilt sensor. That's significant, because if it did have tilt sensors at each joint, system identification would be easier. The algorithm is doing better than one might expect.

    This thing is doing what controls people call "automatic system identification". You have some set of sensor inputs and some set of control outputs, and the control system has to figure out how they relate. It does this by adjusting the outputs and watching what happens. There are various statistical techniques for doing this. Calling this "introspection" isn't really correct.

    After system identification, the model is inverted, or solved for the inputs in terms of the outputs. The inverted model can then be used as a controller. Given desired outputs, the inputs needed to achieve them can be computed.

    The novel result here is that a reasonably decent system identification for a nonlinear system is being performed with a small number of physical tries. That's an improvement over previous methods, which tended to "learn" very slowly. I'd looked at approaches like this for legged locomotion in the past, but the available system identification algorithms weren't good enough. This looks promising.

    Good robotics work, crap Slashdot article.

  • by Sir Holo (531007) * on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:57AM (#20434049)
    Link to the research group at Cornell: http://ccsl.mae.cornell.edu/research/selfmodels/ [cornell.edu] Lots more pics, movies, and details.
  • Self-introspection (Score:2, Informative)

    by sakusha (441986) on Saturday September 01, 2007 @11:58AM (#20434059)
    Self-introspection is a tautology. It is just "introspection."
  • Re:Poor thing... (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 01, 2007 @01:06PM (#20434483)
    There was a Washington Post article about that here [washingtonpost.com].

No hardware designer should be allowed to produce any piece of hardware until three software guys have signed off for it. -- Andy Tanenbaum

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