Robots of the world, unite!
Google has a plan to speed up robotic learning, and it involves getting robots to share their experiences and collectively improve their capabilities.
Sergey Levine from the Google Brain team, along with collaborators from Alphabet subsidiaries DeepMind and X, published a blog post on Monday describing an approach for “general-purpose skill learning across multiple robots.”
Teaching robots how to do even the most basic tasks in real-world settings like homes and offices has vexed roboticists for decades. To tackle this challenge, the Google researchers decided to combine two recent technology advances. The first is cloud robotics, a concept that envisions robots sharing data and skills with each other through an online repository. The other is machine learning, and in particular, the application of deep neural networks to let robots learn for themselves.
In a series of experiments carried out by the researchers, individual robotic arms attempted to perform a given task repeatedly. Not surprisingly, each robot was able to improve its own skills over time, learning to adapt to slight variations in the environment and its own motions. But the Google team didn’t stop there. They got the robots to pool their experiences to “build a common model of the skill” that, as the researches explain, was better and faster than what they could have achieved on their own: