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Robots Come to Each Other's Aid When They Get the Signal


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two off-the-shelf robots

Two off-the-shelf robots were used to demonstrate how robots can pick up each other's signals for assistance, and even set aside their own tasks to do so.

Credit: KTH The Royal Institute of Technology

KTH Royal Institute of Technology researchers have completed work on RECONFIG, a European Union-funded project aimed at enabling robots to use body language to cooperate with one another on complex jobs. The research has produced protocols that enable robots to ask for help from each other and to recognize when other robots need assistance, changing their plans accordingly, says KTH professor and RECONFIG project coordinator Dimos Dimarogonas. He says the research means flexible and dynamic robots will act more humanlike as they face new choices and have to make tough decisions.

Although the researchers focused on shared work such as lending an extra hand to lift and carry something, the concept can be scaled up to include other functions in a home, a factory, or other kinds of workplaces, Dimarogonas says. He notes one key to the collaborative work is the common perception among the robots. "With updated vision technology they can understand that one object is the same from different angles," Dimarogonas says.

An important aspect of the research is that all of the actions take place without human interaction or help. "When help is needed, a call for help is broadcast and a helper robot brings the message to another robot," Dimarogonas says.

From KTH Royal Institute of Technology
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