Will fill blind spots in the field of vision
Scientists have developed a new technology that enables machines to make sense of 3D objects in a richer and more human-like way, an advance that will make robots more suitable for daily chores.
The new technology has the ability to both recognise something and fill in the blind spots in its field of vision, to reconstruct the parts it cannot see.
“That has the potential to be invaluable in a lot of robotic applications,” said Ben Burchfiel from Duke University in the U.S.
A robot that clears dishes off a table, for example, must be able to adapt to an enormous variety of bowls, platters and plates in different sizes and shapes, left in disarray on a cluttered surface.
Humans can glance at a new object and intuitively know what it is, whether it is right side up, upside down or sideways.
The robot perception algorithm can simultaneously guess what a new object is, and how it is oriented, without examining it from multiple angles first. It can also “imagine” any parts that are out of view, researchers said.
Researchers trained their algorithm on a dataset of roughly 4,000 complete 3D scans of common household objects: an assortment of bathtubs, beds, chairs, desks, dressers, monitors, nightstands, sofas, tables and toilets.
Each 3D scan was converted into tens of thousands of little cubes, or voxels, stacked on top of each other like LEGO blocks to make them easier to process.
Technology to help robots understand 3D
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