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Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Cooperative Robots That Learn = Less Work for Human Handlers

National Science Foundation (NSF)
June 28, 2011

Researchers are developing a robot language so 'bots' can cooperate with each other

Learning a language can be difficult for some, but for babies it seems quite easy. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), linguist Jeffrey Heinz and mechanical engineer Bert Tanner have taken some cues from the way humans learn to put words and thoughts together, and are teaching language to robots.

This innovative collaboration began a few years ago at a meeting at the University of Delaware. The event, organized by the dean's office, brought recently hired faculty in arts and sciences, and engineering together; each gave a one-minute slide presentation about his or her research.

"That's how we became aware of what each other was doing," says Tanner. "We started discussing ideas about how we could collaborate, and the NSF project came as a result of that. Once we started seeing things aligning with each other and clicking together, we thought, 'Oh, maybe we really have something here that the world needs to know about.'"

One goal for this project is to design cooperative robots that can operate autonomously and communicate with each other in dangerous situations, such as in a fire or at a disaster site.
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