This Factory Robot Learns a New Job Overnight
Give the robot a task, like picking widgets out of one box and putting them into another container, and it will spend the night figuring out how to do it. Come morning, the machine should have mastered the job as well as if it had been programmed by an expert.
Industrial robots are capable of extreme precision and speed, but they normally need to be programmed very carefully in order to do something like grasp an object. This is difficult and time-consuming, and it means that such robots can usually work only in tightly controlled environments.
Fanuc’s robot uses a technique known as deep reinforcement learning to train itself, over time, how to learn a new task.
[...] applying machine learning to robotics is challenging because controlling behavior is more complex than, say, recognizing objects in images. “Deep learning has made enormous progress in pattern recognition,” Goldberg says. “The challenge with robotics is that you’re doing something beyond that. You need to be able to generate the appropriate actions for a huge range of inputs.”