European scientists have begun a new experiment to help robots interact better with the complex situations in the human world. They've created an online intelligent database called Rapyuta as part of the RoboEarth project, with the goal of creating a central repository of all knowledge and wisdom that a roaming robot could need.
One of the big problems in setting a robot like PR2 loose on a mission to, say, go and buy a sandwich is that the robot needs its own knowledge database to understand what doors are like, where stores are and how to navigate sidewalks without bumping into people. The idea of Rapyuta is that it holds all this knowledge in one place, in a standardized language, so that many different robots can access it--and presumably robo-crowd-source improvements in it over time. Rapyuta can also take on some of the processing burden that a mobile 'bot may otherwise have to carry out inside its own circuits.
The goal of the entire project is to boost the performance of robots like drones, self-driving cars and so on, as well as reducing the cost of each unit--because it could rely on Rapyuta to carry out some processing instead of having big, expensive computers inside its body. The whole thing is possible thanks to the explosion of fast wireless tech, so there's little delay while a robot looks up some info.
Are you ready for the arrival of self-driving cars or butler bots? Or do you think the robot revolution is still far off?
[Image: Flickr user jepoirrier]