Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Robotics Technology

Robots Learn To Follow 61

Roland Piquepaille writes "Three years after the development of robots that act like rats, UC Davis engineers have designed a control system for robots allowing them to pick up on cues that the leader is about to turn, predict where it is going and follow it. This system mimics the human ability to capture signals — consciously or not — from drivers on the road or people walking in the streets to predict what they're about to do. As the team leader said, 'Robots that are better at following could be easier for people to work with.' With this system, a hospital robot could follow doctors during their rounds."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Robots Learn To Follow

Comments Filter:
  • Sign me up! (Score:5, Funny)

    by stormguard2099 ( 1177733 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @05:20PM (#24834863)

    i wanna be the first kid on the block with Stalkerbot 5000!

    • Yeah. And for version 2, it repeats everything you say.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah. And for version 2, it repeats everything you say.

    • by Wanon ( 808109 )

      I know how to stop stalkerbot 5000!

      Where can I get a doormat that says:

      User-agent: *
      Disallow: /

  • H.E.L.P.eR. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fyoder ( 857358 ) * on Monday September 01, 2008 @05:22PM (#24834893) Homepage Journal

    As said the team leader, 'robots that are better at following could be easier for people to work with.' With this system, an hospital robot could follow doctors during their rounds."

    Cool. Sounds like we're not far from the development of a real life H.E.L.P.eR. []

    H.E.L.P.eR. has a wide range of devices in him and knowledge. He can perform surgery (as he once did to retrieve a kidney each from the boys), can fly the X-1, and holds a number of various gadgets in his body -- enough that Dr. Venture could even use him as a makeshift kidney dialysis machine.

    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Cool. Sounds like we're not far from the development of a real life H.E.L.P.eR.

      We're probably closer to having autonomous armed drones (flying and/or driving) that better anticipate an enemy's evasive maneuvers.

      Sad, but true.

  • Overlords (Score:5, Funny)

    by hack slash ( 1064002 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @05:23PM (#24834899)
    I for one welcome ou....hey stop following me!
    • Re:Overlords (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Plutonite ( 999141 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @06:09PM (#24835305)

      Read up on the DARPA Urban challenge winners, especially the stanford and carnegie-mellon vehicles. Not only could they adjust themselves according to other vehicle behavior (i.e following the directions and speed of multiple objects on the road) they even learned to negotiate intersections. They sure as hell could follow you around ;)

      • negotiating intersections is a completely different problem. all it takes to negotiate an intersection is to know the rules of traffic priority/right of way (or abide by other traffic control devices like traffic signals).

        when there's a pre-established protocol for prioritizing traffic, there's little need for complex decision-making on the part of the individual. that's the way our road systems are designed so as to minimize accidents. it may take a new driver a little while to learn these rules, but they

  • by Lt.Hawkins ( 17467 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @05:25PM (#24834927) Homepage

    I, for one, welcome our new robot followers...

  • Oh no! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @05:25PM (#24834929)

    With this system, an hospital robot could follow doctors during their rounds.

          As if the hordes of medical students weren't enough! Now robots are going to get in the way too?

  • Next Month (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rie Beam ( 632299 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @05:28PM (#24834959) Journal

    "Robots Master the Conga Line"

  • Hospital robot = sounds much too practical and boring. Unless they can turn me into Darth Vader, I want no part of it.

    Mechanical Squirrels on the other hand is where all the R&D should be at. High tech enough to follow me wherever I go; through water, lava, speeding down the road at supersonic speeds. The sheer volume of applications would be tremendous.
    • by Grave ( 8234 )

      Darth Vader wasn't a robot though. He just had artificial limbs and lung assistance, and needed a cool suit to make it all look less grotesque. It's not that far out of the realm of possibility to do something like that at this point, really.

      • I was referring to the end of ep 3 where they had all those robot doctors/assistants running around replacing his body parts, not the body parts themselves
  • Help Me (Score:2, Insightful)

    So if they learn to follow really well, we can dance partners for those that don't have any rhythm or rhyme to their dance moves at all. And finally someone(thing) that can dance like Usher. Sweet!
  • Supporters to the john....

  • and there was a radio shack version as well, Robie Jr.
    and the japanese had a version, called "charmmy"

    the remote had an ultrasonic transmitter, and you input fwd, back, left & right commands which were transmitted
    inaudibly, but as the robot had two microphones on his sholders- he followed commands.

    then you flipped the 'follow me' switch- and he just homed in on the remote--- using 'stereo'

    this was back in the 1980's

    what's the big deal? can't the doc carry something that can be tracked from two points

  • by RexDevious ( 321791 ) on Monday September 01, 2008 @06:16PM (#24835365) Homepage Journal

    I was always precise, fast, and prone to crashing at work; but what really set me apart from the crowd was, being half German, I was a "born follower". I *hate* leading, what with all the decisions and vague metrics of success. I much prefer basking in the flawless execution of my assigned tasks, even when they were morally ambiguous or made no sense at all. I make a great programmer because computers also demand you do things "their way", even it only a tiny fraction of the population can stomach it.

    It's only a small step from following leaders physically to following them figuratively. I can only hope that *some* company sticks with the current approach of producing software that treats me as the spineless meat-bag that I am.

  • Not only will it follow you, but it can't be bargained with, it can't be reasoned with, it doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear, and it absolutely will not stop, ever, until....

    Well, you know the rest.

  • You'd think following robots would be a no brainer. Put an infrared beacon on the human & program the robot to always be within a certain distance of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Thanks, but I already have cats.

  • Oh sure following is what they WANT us to think they're doing! They start a comfortable 10' away at first, and then over the weeks slowly begin to follow closer and closer until....wait for it... BAM, robotic piano string around your neck with the soft whirrring sound of hydraulic motors tightening their metallic arms pulling the wire tighter and tighter around your neck until they toss your lifeless corpse in a mass grave.
  • i can build my mechanical yeti.
  • In the annual RoboCup@home league they have robots following humans all the time and have been for the past few years. It's one of their standard challenges, e.g.: []
  • Let's hope they don't follow Roland.
  • ... we can teach them to love.
  • "Robots Learn to Swallow"

    then I reread it

    imagine my disappointment

  • This is old news if you play Golf in Australia thanks to Shadow Caddy []
  • This is what happened in Terminator. Best destroy them now methinks.
  • How precisely does following a leader based on signals they give qualify as mimicking a human ability? Ants, bees, and sardines can do this without colliding with whoever is in front or those going in the opposite direction, with bees and sardines managing to do it in three dimensions. Anyone who has seen ducks and geese migrating in neat triangular formations knows that birds also follow leaders quite happily, possibly because nobody's bothered to tell them that it's a human ability which creatures with ti

  • Or persue?

  • In Soviet Russia, the robotic overlords follow you.
  • So now if we can just teach a robot to play the flute, we can have robot pied pipers followed by robot rats all over the place. Then at last humanity will be fulfilled.

"No, no, I don't mind being called the smartest man in the world. I just wish it wasn't this one." -- Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias, WATCHMEN