We're All Gonna Die! (Just Kidding, Nothing To Worry About): Robots Learn How To Move

August 7, 2008


Despite their better judgment and several threatening letters from yours truly, researchers in Leipzig, Germany are writing software that allows robots to teach themselves how to move. This is great news.

The software mimics the interconnected sensing and processing of a brain in a so-called "neural network". Armed with such a network, the simulated creatures start to explore.

The network then sends out signals to move in a particular way, and predicts where it should end up, based on that movement. If it encounters an obstacle such as itself, a wall or the floor, the prediction is wrong, and the robot tries different moves, learning about itself and its environment as it does so.

This approach is far more flexible than traditional programming, in which movements are painstakingly planned out in a well-defined space. As conditions change, so can the robot's behavior.

Uh-huh. Now I'm not saying there's nothing to worry about here, but seriously folks, these robots could never figure out how to wield a knife or gun. And I'm not just saying that because I want plenty of robot-fodder standing around while I make my escape to the moon. Wait, yes I am. Gotta look out for #1.

Hit the jump for a video simulation of a dog learning to jump a fence and humanoid dancing.

Robots learn to move themselves

Thanks to LaVada, Brian, and Jacob for preying on my fear of the robotic apocalypse.

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