A team of Stanford researchers is testing two frameworks that, coupled, could make it quicker and easier to teach robots basic skills. The RoboTurk framework allows people to direct the robot arms in real time with a smartphone and a browser by showing the robot how to carry out tasks like picking up objects. SURREAL speeds the learning process by running multiple practices at once, basically allowing the robots to learn from many practices concurrently.
To humans, these tasks may seem easy. But for the robots of today, it's rather hard. They usually learn by interacting with, and exploring their environment. This regularly results in lots of random arm waving. They also learn from large datasets. Neither of these is as efficient as getting some human help.
In the same way that parents teach their children to brush their teeth by guiding their hands, people can demonstrate to robots how to do specific tasks.
The team predicts that robots will be an essential part of everyday life in the future, helping with household chores, performing dreary assembly tasks in manufacturing, or carrying out dangerous tasks that may pose a threat to humans.
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