Adversarial robots use game theory to improve at grabbing objects

adversarial robot grabbing objects gjgzbuslaiu3le0tfarv
Whether it was your favorite toy or the last portion of mashed potatoes, anyone who grew up with a sibling knows that you learn to forcefully stake your claim to what’s rightfully yours.

It turns out that a similar idea can be applied to robots.

In a new piece of research — presented at the recent 2017 International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA) — engineers from Google and Carnegie Mellon University demonstrated that robots learn to grasp objects more robustly if another robot can be made to try and snatch it away from them while they’re doing so.

When one robot is given the task of picking up an object, the researchers made its evil twin (not that they used those words exactly) attempt to grab it from them. If the object isn’t properly held, the rival robot would be successful in its snatch-and-grab effort. Over time, the first robot learns to more securely hold onto its object — and with a vastly accelerated learning time, compared to working this out on its own.

“Robustness is a challenging problem for robotics,” Lerrel Pinto, a PhD student at Carnegie Mellon’s Robotics Institute told Digital Trends. “You ideally want a robot to be able to transfer what it has learnt to environments that it hasn’t seen before, or even be stable to risks in the environment. Our adversarial formulation allows the robot to learn to adapt to adversaries, and this could allow the robot to work in new environments.”

The work uses deep learning technology, as well as insights from game theory: the mathematical study of conflict and cooperation, in which one party’s gain can mean the other party’s loss. In this case, a successful grab from the rival robot is recorded as a failure for the robot it grabbed the object from — which triggers a learning experience for the loser. Over time, the robots’ tussles make each of them smarter.

That sounds like progress — just as long as the robots don’t eventually form a truce and target us with their adversarial AI, we guess!

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Booze-filled ski poles and crypto piggy banks

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Deals

Save up to $200 on Roomba and other robot vacuums before Christmas

We've found the best discounts on robot vacuum cleaners on brands such as Roomba, Shark, Eufy, and Ecovacs Deebot. Whether you're buying Christmas gifts or just need a little help around the house, these fourteen deals can help you save.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Gaming

Hey, Sony! If you make a PS2 Classic, it needs these games

158 million PS2 consoles were sold worldwide during its lifecycle, making it the most successful video game console of all time. It was hard, but we narrowed down the PS2's vast library of games. Here are the best PS2 games of all time.
Emerging Tech

This unusual nature-inspired robot is equally at home on land or in the water

This intriguing, nature-inspired robot may look unusual, but it's impressively capable of moving on both land and water without problem. Heck, it can even travel on ice if necessary.
Emerging Tech

Bright ‘hyperactive’ comet should be visible in the sky this weekend

An unusual green comet, 46P/Wirtanen, will be visible in the night sky this month as it makes its closest approach to Earth in 20 years. It may even be possible to see the comet without a telescope.
Emerging Tech

Meet the MIT scientist who’s growing semi-sentient cyborg houseplants

Elowan is a cybernetic plant that can respond to its surroundings. Tethered by a few wires and silver electrodes, the plant-robot hybrid can move in response to bioelectrochemical signals that reflect the plant’s light demands.
Emerging Tech

Gorgeous images show storms and cloud formations in the atmosphere of Jupiter

NASA's Juno mission arrived at Jupiter in 2016 and has been collecting data since then. NASA has shared an update on the progress of the mission as it reaches its halfway point, releasing stunning images of the planet as seen from orbit.
Emerging Tech

Beautiful image of young planets sheds new light on planet formation

Researchers examining protoplanetary disks -- the belts of dust that eventually form planets -- have shared fascinating images of the planets from their survey, showing the various stages of planet formation.
Emerging Tech

Delivery robot goes up in flames while out and about in California

A small meal-delivery robot suddenly caught fire in Berkeley, California, on Friday. The blaze was quickly tackled and no one was hurt, but the incident is nevertheless a troubling one for the fledgling robot delivery industry.
Emerging Tech

High-tech dancing robot turns out to be a guy in a costume

A Russian TV audience was impressed recently by an adult-sized "robot" that could dance and talk. But when some people began pointing out that its actions were a bit odd, the truth emerged ... it was a fella in a robot suit.
Emerging Tech

MIT’s smart capsule could be used to release drugs in response to a fever

Researchers have developed a 3D-printed capsule which can monitor patients' vital signs, transmit this information to a connected device, and release drugs in response to symptoms.
Emerging Tech

‘Crop duster’ robot is helping reseed the Great Barrier Reef with coral

In a world first, an undersea robot has delivered microscopic coral larvae to the Great Barrier Reef. Meet Larvalbot: the robot "crop duster" which dispenses coral babies on troubled reefs.
Emerging Tech

Self-driving dirt rally vehicle offers crash course in autonomous car safety

Georgia Tech's AutoRally initiative pushes self-driving cars to their limit by getting scaled-down autonomous vehicles to drive really, really fast and aggressively on dirt roads. Here's why.