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RoboEarth: Is this the origin of (Terminator) Skynet?

Posted in Machine Learning, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on January 16, 2014

We do remember the Skynet in the Terminator series, dont we? Or the Matrix for example?


In a striking resemblance to the Skynet, a world wide web for robots named RoboEarth has been conceptualized which could help machines learn from each other and share tips and information. The eventual aim is that both robots and humans will be able to upload information to the cloudbased database, which would act as a kind of common brain for machines. RoboEarth’s database stores knowledge generated by humans — and robots — in a machine-readable format. It will provide software components, maps for navigation, task knowledge and object recognition models. At its core RoboEarth is a world wide web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other about their behaviour and their environment.

The goal of RoboEarth is to allow robotic systems to benefit from the experience of other robots, paving the way for rapid advances in machine cognition and behaviour, and ultimately, for more subtle and sophisticated human-machine interaction. The problem right now is that robots are often developed specifically for one task. Everyday changes that happen all the time in our environment make all the programmed actions unusable. By docking to the RoboEarth, machines will be able to share learning, cognition, knowledge and experiences such that other machines can also do tasks without having to be specifically programmed for that. All machine knowledge and experience are shared worldwide on a central, online database. As well as that, computing and ‘thinking’ tasks can be carried out by the system’s ‘cloud engine’, so the robot/machine doesn’t need to have as much computing or battery power on-board.

This database of operations could be regarded as the Wikipedia for Machines and Robots.The platform, dubbed RoboEarth, will be presented next week after four years of research by the team of scientists from six European research institutes – Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands), Philips, ETH Zurich (Switzerland), Technical University of Munich (Germany) and the universities of Zaragoza (Spain) and Stuttgart(Germany), according to a release from Eindhoven University. The operation of the platform will be demonstrated to a delegation from the European Commission, which financed the project, using four robots and two simulated hospital rooms.

The greying population of advanced countries has created an urgent future need for robots to take over caring or household tasks. To enable robots to successfully lend a mechanical helping hand, they need to be able to deal flexibly with new situations and conditions.

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