Thursday, November 16, 2006

New Kind Of Robot Developed At Cornell

U.S. scientists say they have created a new kind of robot that can teach itself to walk and then, when it is damaged, it teaches itself to limp.

Instead of giving the robot a rigid set of instructions, Cornell University researchers let it discover its own nature and work out how to control itself, a process that seems to resemble the way human and animal babies discover and manipulate their bodies.

Although the test robot is a simple four-legged device, the researchers say the underlying algorithm could be used to build more complex robots that can deal with uncertain situations, such as space exploration.

Assistant Professor Hod Lipson said the research "opens the door to a new level of machine cognition and sheds light on the age-old question of machine consciousness, which is all about internal models."

The experiment, reported in the latest issue of the journal Science, was the work of Lipson; Josh Bongard, a former Cornell postdoctoral researcher now on the faculty at the University of Vermont; and graduate student Viktor Zykov.


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