If you are worried that robots may someday rise and take all our jobs, there’s one more reason for you to be concerned – PR2 is a self-learning robot chef that can teach itself how to cook by just looking at online tutorials and recipes.
The autonomous robot was designed by a European team of engineers, whose main goal is to perfect robots to the point that they can perform any human activity that requires manipulation both at work and home.
Engineers have been working on the bot since 2012, when the RoboHow project was first launched. The project attracted brain power from nine major universities across Europe and it was funded by the E.U.
The team hopes that one day tedious tasks such as cooking and cleaning may be done by robots, but until then they try to figure out a way of making the robots able to learn these things without help from a human operator.
A similar idea was touted by MIT scientists this week, as well. In a paper published in the MIT Technology Review, authors argued that it is better for the future of robotics for robots to self-learn rather than expect engineers to instruct them step by step on how to perform certain moves.
MIT researchers said that the Europeans are currently developing a method of embedding machine with the “general knowledge” necessary to them to perform specific actions from complex instructions.
For this purpose, RoboHow’s bots read and watched tutorials on how to perform specific actions from popular sites such as WikiHow and YouTube. But recently they have been surfing the online environment in search for recipes, just like humans do.
But that may be only the tip of the iceberg of their endeavor of making pancakes, for instance. Experts explain that unlike robots humans do not have to worry about how to hold a spatula or a frying pan. These actions are part of a general knowledge humans acquired throughout their lives by experience. On the other hand, machines need to be taught every single step from zero. And if they figure out how to do it buy themselves, possibilities are endless.
Here you have a short clip of RoboHow’s robots trying to make pancakes.
RoboHow engineers claim that their robots are just doing it. They watch and learn human behavior from Internet videos. Additionally, when they have enough information they are able to share it with other robots through a Wikipedia-like database called Open Ease.
Currently RoboHow’s bots are even able to collaborate on complex projects such as making a pizza. PR2 teamed up with a fellow robot called Boxy to create the pizza. While PR2 brought the tools and ingredients to its partner, Boxy provided a form to the pizza dough and made sure that ingredients are correctly placed on top of it. Nevertheless, the two chefs did need help from a human, who placed the tray with the pizza into an oven.
Image Source: Flickr