iCub Robot May Think Like a Human: Lines Between Man and Machine Blur (Video)
What if a robot could act and even feel like a human? Researchers are getting a bit closer to accomplishing that feat. They're working on a robot that feels, sees, thinks and learns like us as the lines between man and machine become a bit more blurry.
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The robot is called the iCub robot. Currently, twenty European laboratories have an iCub, which was developed in Italy. In the future, researchers hope to develop the robot enough so that it can learn and think like a human does. Although this may seem farfetched, decades of research into cognitive psychology and the human brain have given researchers knowledge about language, memory, motor skills and perception that could help design such a robot.
"The application of cognition in technical systems should also mean that the robot learns from its experiences and the actions it performs," said Frank van der Velde, one of the researchers, in a news release. "A simple example: a robot that spills too much when pouring a cup of coffee can then learn how it should be done."
In fact, the iCub could have numerous applications. It could help handicapped individuals get around, or even perform everyday tasks.
"The new iCub has a skin and fingers that have a much better sense of touch and can feel strength," said Van der Velde. "That makes interaction with humans much more natural. We want to ensure that this robot continues to learn and understands how people function. This research ensures, for example, that robots actually gather knowledge by focusing on certain objects or persons. In areas of application like healthcare and nursing, such robots can play an important role. A good example would be that in ten years' time you see a blind person walking with a robot guide dog."
Scientists are only improving this robot, too. Already, researchers have started the development of electronic circuits that resemble a web of neurons in the human brain. This could potentially be used for iCub's visual perception.
We'll probably have to wait a while to see these robots being used in any kind of practical capacity. Yet researchers are getting closer and closer with each passing year. In the future, we could see these machines helping patients or even just strolling down the street--that's a scary thought.
Want to see the iCub for yourself? Check out the video below, courtesy of YouTube.