Breakthrough CSAIL system suggests robots could one day be able to see well enough to be useful in people’s homes and offices.
Humans have long been masters of dexterity, a skill that can largely be credited to the help of our eyes. Robots, meanwhile, are still catching up.
Certainly there’s been some progress: For decades, robots in controlled environments like assembly lines have been able to pick up the same object over and over again. More recently, breakthroughs in computer vision have enabled robots to make basic distinctions between objects. Even then, though, the systems don’t truly understand objects’ shapes, so there’s little the robots can do after a quick pick-up.
In a new paper, researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), say that they’ve made a key development in this area of work: a system that lets robots inspect random objects, and visually understand them enough to accomplish specific tasks without ever having seen them before…