The Loh Down On Science

Helping robots help themselves, and each other

Wikipedia . . . for robots?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Poor robots.  When you or I need help, we have family, friends, and co-workers.  But robots are isolated, closed-off machines.  Like computers before the internet.

Enter robotics scientists at Switzerland’s Federal Institute of Technology.  They’ve designed a system that lets robots access the cloud! 

They call their system “RoboEarth.” It’s a cross between cloud data storage and Wikipedia.   Bots remotely store their programming on RoboEarth’s servers.  When a robot needs to learn something new, or do heavy-duty computations?  It connects by Wi-Fi to RoboEarth.  It checks for new data or adds its own.  Plus, it doesn't get bogged down by its own limited computational power.

For instance, a Roomba vacuum cleaner could learn to better navigate through a certain room.  Or upload its map of that room to help other Roombas.

The system could mean lighter, smarter robots.

Let's just hope they can finally learn to open those pod bay doors.  “Hello, Dave.  It’s Hal. I'm here to do your vacuuming.”
 

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The Loh Down on Science is produced by LDOS Media Lab, with 89.3 KPCC Pasadena, California. And made possible by the generous support of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

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