AI News, Touchy artificial intelligence

Touchy-Feely Robots: MIT’s New AI System Can Identify Things Using Sight, Touch

Learning about the environment using touch and sight comes easily to humans, but robots can’t use these senses interchangeably like we do.

This sort of knowledge comes with years of trial and error in childhood.Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working on an AI system that can “learn to see by touching and feel by seeing.” For the research, the team at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) used a KUKA robot arm that had a special tactile sensor called GelSight.

The dataset called “VisGel” had three million “visual/tactile-paired images.” The team also used what they call the generative adversarial networks (GANs) to teach the system the connection between vision and touch.

“By looking at the scene, our model can imagine the feeling of touching a flat surface or a sharp edge,” says Yunzhu Li, CSAIL PhD student and lead author on a new paper about the system, according to a news release.

Autonomous cars can feel the road ahead

Human drivers subconsciously respond to the feelings and sensations caused by the bumps, dynamics and changing grip of the road beneath their wheels.

They rely on cameras and lidar sensors, know the vehicle speed, the speed of the vehicle in front, its distance from your vehicle, and calculate the safe distance of the vehicle given relative velocities, but they don’t know the road’s grip level.”

Building algorithms that combine numerous sources of data – including tire pressure, loose wheels, road conditions, precipitation, ambient temperature – helps their engineers map the changing dynamics of road conditions and friction.

“We can use different types of data with friction data such as traffic to enhance the understanding of the road beyond the line of sight.” One thing is for sure: using these types of touchy-feely technologies outlined above, autonomous cars of the future will provide much improved levels of safety for drivers and passengers alike.

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