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Robot adapts to loss of limbs

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Robots That Can Adapt Like Animals was published in Nature.It demonstrates how robots can recover from injury in less than 2 minutes. The video above shows how a six-legged robot adapts and continues to walk even with two broken legs. The algorithm developed is also applicable to the robotic arm.
Living creatures have a strong ability to adapt to injury. A dog may lose a paw, but after a while will still be able to play with his owner. A sprained ankle will find a way to keep moving. These features would be very useful in robots, which can also lose parts of their bodies. As the researchers tell us, animals don’t start learning from scratch when injured. Instead, they use intuition. They pick up several ways to keep going, test them and choose the right one. A team of scientists managed to create robots that do about the same thing.
Prior to operation, the robot uses a computer simulation of the running process. This produces a detailed behavior map based on the new MAP-Elites evolutionary algorithm. The map contains the robot’s perceptions of the various methods of operation and an evaluation of their success. The hexapod receives the damage and tries to use these representations to control the learning algorithm. The old methods of walking no longer work – the map was made for six serviceable limbs. Experiments are underway to quickly detect compensatory behavior and Bayesian optimization. The new algorithm is called Intelligent Trial and Error.
Robot adapts to loss of limbs After an injury, the robot is learning. It has ideas about previous behaviors that might work, and it begins to test them. But these representations are based on a simulation of the robot without injury. So we have to find a way to modify them to make them work. The robot performs experiments. If one behavior doesn’t work, the robot will eliminate a whole group of it, and try something else. For example, if moving the front legs doesn’t work, the robot will try moving the back legs. According to the experiments, the most important part is mapping and working with it. Interestingly, the hexapod’s movements as a result begin to resemble those of a wounded animal.
Researchers were amazed at the learning speed of the damaged robots. It takes less than two minutes to adapt; in the video, the process takes 20-30 seconds. Sometimes the six-legged robot begins to move slightly faster than before as a result of adaptation. The same algorithm works with many other robots. For example, the video shows a test of a manipulator arm whose task was to transport an object to a given point. It was demonstrated that the method could adapt to the loss of two limbs out of six and the failure of two motors of the manipulator arm. The hexapod was able to adapt to six different types of injuries, the robotic arm to 14.
New technology could help create more autonomous and reliable robots. Search and rescue operations will not involve close attention to robots, and personal robot assistants will continue to be useful even in serious malfunctions.
By Phys.org and University of Wyoming news site DOI: 10.1038/nature14422

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