Researchers and students from the University of California at Berkeley, has developed a new AI-controlled robotic arm. The development was under the supervision of Professor Pieter Abbeel, a pioneer in the use of artificial intelligence in robotics.
They compare it to the launch of the Apple II computer; an affordable platform would open doors to new possibilities. According to Stephen McKinley, who worked on the project, “Robots are increasingly able to learn new tasks, whether through experimentation or expert demonstration. Without a low-cost platform – an Apple II device – experimentation and productive research will continue to progress slowly. The accessibility of more robots will greatly accelerate research.»
An affordable robot than anything else in the industry
Robotics and artificial intelligence evolve most of the time separately. The AI has made great leaps forward on complex and abstract tasks, such as identifying objects on an image or playing video games. As for robots, they generally fall into two categories. The first is from very costly research prototypes. Although there are cheaper models of robots, they do not intend to work with artificial intelligence. The second category includes the different robots and mechanisms used in industrial production. The latter is capable of high precision, but do not tolerate any unforeseen events and require very complex programming.
An industrial robot may cost $50,000 and the new robotic arm, called Blue, costs only $5,000 (about €4,400) and can be controlled by a virtual reality headset. In addition, the robot has artificial intelligence capabilities integrated. Researchers believe that such an affordable robotic arm could make it much more accessible, and significantly accelerate development in the
Is it safe for humans?
The Blue robotic arm is capable of lifting heavy loads. It can also be handled directly, by pushing or pulling it. This has the advantage of making it safer when humans work nearby, but also of teaching it new tasks by showing it, rather than programming it. The researchers indicated that the designed of Blue is compatible with any computer equipped with artificial intelligence software.
Researchers and robotics enthusiasts will be able to obtain the arm from Berkeley Open Arms, a new company created specifically to develop and sell the device.