The researchers test their program on a real-life robot, which is able to decide that a can needs to be picked up, then plan and execute the actual motions necessary to lift it from a table (Image: Melanie Gonick)
MIT computer scientists Tomas Lozano-Perez and Leslie Kaelbling with the Willow Garage PR2 robot (Image: Melanie Gonick)
Although robots have started to creep into many homes in the form of robotic vacuum cleaners like the Roomba, many of us were hoping humanoid robots would be doing everything from preparing meals to doing the laundry by now. Unfortunately, it turns out that even tasks that we consider relatively simple can prove difficult for robots to replicate. Instead of attempting to program robots to devise a complete detailed plan before tacking a task, MIT scientists are programming them to apply the old adage of “one step at a time” so the robots break tasks down into smaller, easier to handle chunks.
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