Don’t tell Elon Musk, but robots are getting smarter and better at our jobs.
Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed a robot that can very quickly learn how to act like humans. An algorithm taught the robot to watch a single video of a human picking up a new object and then mimic the action, even if it had never seen the object before. In a paper published on arXiv, the researchers detail their robot’s so-called “one-shot” imitation learning capabilities, which built on prior work, to achieve impressive results by combining imitation learning with a meta-learning algorithm—a process called model-agnostic meta-learning (MAML).
The results reveal that their robot can learn to manipulate a brand-new object simply by watching a single video, which makes you wonder what would happen if it watched a few episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
While picking up an object doesn’t sound that challenging (after all robots have been working assembly lines for years now) as Technology Review notes, this isn’t a milestone in getting handsy (so to speak) but in teaching. One-shot learning could make it so humans would simply have to show robots what they want them to do and then copy it, dramatically streamlining the robot programming process.