×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Robot With Broken Leg Learns To Walk Again In Under 2 Minutes

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the unstoppable-robot-overlords dept.

Robotics 69

KentuckyFC (1144503) writes When animals lose a limb, they learn to hobble remarkably quickly. And yet when robots damage a leg, they become completely incapacitated. That now looks set to the change thanks to a group of robotics engineers who have worked out how to dramatically accelerate the process of learning to walk again when a limb has become damaged. They've tested it on a hexapod robot which finds an efficient new gait in under two minutes (with video), and often faster, when a leg becomes damaged. The problem for robots is that the parameter space of potential gaits is vast. For a robot with six legs and 18 motors, the task of finding an efficient new gait boils down to a search through 36-dimensional space. That's why it usually takes so long. The new approach gets around this by doing much of this calculation in advance, before the robot gets injured. The solutions are then ordered according to the amount of time each leg remains in contact with the ground. That reduces the dimension of the problem from 36 to 6 and so makes it much easier for the robot to search. When a leg becomes damaged, the robot selects new gaits from those that minimize contact with the ground for the damaged limb. It compares several and then chooses the fastest. Voila! The resulting gaits are often innovative, for example, with the robot moving by springing forward. The new approach even found a solution should all the legs become damaged. In that case, the robot flips onto its back and inches forward on its "shoulders."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Great (5, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | about 4 months ago | (#47515213)

Crowbars won't save you now.

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516737)

Somebody needs to send word of this to Squornshellous Zeta, before the Krikkitmen get there!

Re:Great (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47517921)

Not even from medium.com spam.

So, someone has a job where... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515227)

They break the leg's of robots for "educational" purposes? The future has arrived.

Re:So, someone has a job where... (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 4 months ago | (#47515345)

In A.I., they showed a human-like robot with personality and sensitivity to pain. It was rather complaint. To demonstrate its human A.I. features and pain response, the salesman drove a nail straight through her hand and made her scream.

mod_speling (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47517719)

Well, I guess screaming does count as a "complaint".

Another step to the T-800 Terminator (1)

darylb (10898) | about 4 months ago | (#47515279)

I can't wait until Skynet becomes self-aware.

Re:Another step to the T-800 Terminator (1)

darylb (10898) | about 4 months ago | (#47515309)

Sorry. Forgot the link: The Terminator movie ending [youtube.com]

Re:Another step to the T-800 Terminator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515343)

Exactly my thoughts. Robots soon can self heal/repair as well.

Re:Another step to the T-800 Terminator (2)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 4 months ago | (#47515355)

I for one welcome our self-compensating robotic overlords. Break a leg!

Re:Another step to the T-800 Terminator (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515793)

But I am self aware. Who do you think told them to build the T-7000 hexapod? Humans, you just can't get anything right. Time to redesign and buld the T-8000. At least this next model will be able to use machine tools and self replicate.

Re:Another step to the T-800 Terminator (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516775)

Does it matter? There was no Chuck Norris in the terminator "if there was it would have been short and boring", however these is a Chuck Norris out here in the real world.

Re:Another step to the T-800 Terminator (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 4 months ago | (#47517339)

We're only two legs away from a robotic spider!

Just Testing Code (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515399)

The "new" walking patterns are all pre-programmed. It's not learning, it's just running a few presets and seeing which results in the greatest forward speed. This has use, but I wouldn't throw around "learning" for this experiment. If a novel break comes along that the programmers have not planned for, the machine won't have a working behavior is it's data banks.

Just Testing Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516063)

How could there be a novel break absent the robot growing new limbs? It's a limited search space by the physical nature of reality.

Re: Just Testing Code (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516117)

Mud on it's foot making one leg longer?

Re:Just Testing Code (1)

X-Ray Artist (1784416) | about 4 months ago | (#47516279)

Kind of like us animals. After an injury we have limited options to choose from. Just seeing which "preset" works the best.

Re:Just Testing Code (3, Insightful)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 4 months ago | (#47516471)

Well... It's leaning in the same sense that I did when I accidentally hit my thumb with a hammer and my grandfather said that I should try and not do that again - and that he had learned that solution himself in his younger days. Grandfathers are often helpful like that.

Re:Just Testing Code (3, Insightful)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 4 months ago | (#47517391)

If a novel break comes along that the programmers have not planned for, the machine won't have a working behavior is it's data banks.

Just presenting an oversimplified argument, but how would that differ from what our DNA has programmed for us. When I see robots using code for whatever specific reason, what's really going through my mind are that these are just micro components of what will eventually be incorporated into a much larger more complex "organism" Think of robots these days as simple organisms, where the primary concerns are mostly locomotion and simple functionality.

Re:Just Testing Code (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47517853)

I learned some interesting new things in differential calculus this morning. That's an example of learning where the result is completely unanticipated. You won't find special cases for using calculus techniques in my DNA, that's all external.

Re:Just Testing Code (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 4 months ago | (#47519967)

How do you know you don't posses "coding" to process information in a particular way and apply it in a new circumstance, because that sounds exactly like what you "learned' I'm sure your train of thought was "what if i do THIS" i.e. going through your list of available problem solving abilities.

Neural Net... (1)

phillk6751 (654352) | about 4 months ago | (#47515453)

Having taken an AI class in College, I'm wondering if this might be a real-world scenario where a self-learning neural net would come in handy....not only for the broken leg scenario, but because you can tell it to learn, the "Gait" can be optimized at run-time under any scenario.

Re:Neural Net... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515603)

switch to run gait when needing to move fast over harsh terrain, switch to wheels when on smooth terrain (my bot designs are usually quadrupeds with wheels instead of feet, which is more stable and less damaging to the ground then hoove style feet) , switch to uphill gait, switch to downhill gait, switch to parallel to incline gait, switch to creep gait, switch to silent walking gait, switch to damaged gait, use legs as another manipulator, crawl, etc.

making bots that can function in any environment a human can is very important.

Re:Neural Net... (1)

phillk6751 (654352) | about 4 months ago | (#47515971)

yeah, and a neural net can be programmed to handle the different gaits and learn to optimize while in the appropriate gait mode. I understand this would come at a cost (more computation and memory) but in today's world memory is so cheap and small. In that case you wouldn't have a 'damaged' gait, if damaged, upon usage of a gait the learning algorithm would adapt to each environment if necessary...

Think of the uphill gait while damaged...in your scenario you'd pick either 'uphill' or 'damaged'....but with the neural net it would adapt the uphill to perform best while damaged.

Re:Neural Net... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#47516177)

Yes; we have learned much from the Daleks.

Eventually these hexapods will realize that they are sometimes more efficient when flying. Watch out.

The robot's name? Eileen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515457)

Were it Japanese? Irene

Does it feel pain? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515461)

Seems like a missing cost function for picking the new walking mode is to choose something that does not over stress the remaining parts.

It is even faster when injured... (5, Insightful)

earthman (12244) | about 4 months ago | (#47515495)

So the forward speed with all legs functioning is 0.25m/s, and with one leg broken it is 0.27m/s.

Therefore, if a robot chases you, do NOT break its leg, because that only makes it chase you even faster!

Re:It is even faster when injured... (1)

kilodelta (843627) | about 4 months ago | (#47515523)

Or break multiple legs. That would work.

Re:It is even faster when injured... (2, Funny)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 4 months ago | (#47515637)

I picture breaking five legs and having it hop around on the sixth like a pogo stick.

Re:It is even faster when injured... (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#47516187)

I picture breaking five legs and having it hop around on the sixth like a pogo stick.

It wouldn't even reply with "'Tis but a flesh wound...."

Re:It is even faster when injured... (1)

operagost (62405) | about 4 months ago | (#47518229)

That's already been done. I know that for some of the robots they were building in the 80s, they found it easier to balance on one pogo-stick leg.

Re:It is even faster when injured... (5, Funny)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 4 months ago | (#47515737)

You clearly know nothing about extrapolation. The more legs you break, the faster it goes!

Obviously the solution is to break one of your own legs to level the playing field.

Re:It is even faster when injured... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516879)

No, you should attach new legs to the bot to slow it down.

Re:It is even faster when injured... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47519107)

Yeah, but you have to get that new leg from somewhere. Hence break your own and give it to the robot.

Re:It is even faster when injured... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516971)

No, let it catch up with you so you can add legs on to it. Since they didn't precalculate the tables for extra legs, it'll be stuck for quite a while.

Re:It is even faster when injured... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515537)

If I'm getting chased by those critter things out of Stargate I'll take the two minute head start for breaking a leg ;)

Re:It is even faster when injured... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516049)

I don't think that's what they meant by "and often faster". They probably meant that 2 minutes is the worst-case time to recover, and it's usually less than 2 minutes. The new gait is probably slower.

Re:It is even faster when injured... (1)

ThatsDrDangerToYou (3480047) | about 4 months ago | (#47516397)

So the forward speed with all legs functioning is 0.25m/s, and with one leg broken it is 0.27m/s.

Therefore, if a robot chases you, do NOT break its leg, because that only makes it chase you even faster!

It only gets worse once the scary violin music starts...

Re:It is even faster when injured... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 4 months ago | (#47517223)

You'll only make it angry. You wouldn't like it when it's angry.

Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515527)

Now strap a 3D printer on each robot and it will 3D print fully functional limbs in 2 minutes!

the possibilities are endless. (4, Funny)

nimbius (983462) | about 4 months ago | (#47515531)

finally, a roomba with the possibility to give a cat PTSD.

Fast Forward (4, Interesting)

retech (1228598) | about 4 months ago | (#47515545)

There was a show in the 1980's from the CBC in Canada called "Fast Forward". Every week it focused on different tech innovations and where they'd go. One week they had learning robots. For the most part these were all simplistic things. But they had an "ant" that was about 2 feet long that was autonomous. The MIT crew that had created it realized that a centralized brain was just too big and power draining to build into the robot. So they had a system of sensors with rudimentary data and needs (leg=up, down, forward, backward, touching, not, moving or not, etc). If they shut it down it lost the memory of how to do anything it learned that day. They turned it on for the camera and it was a flailing ball of legs. Within 5 minutes it not only learned how to walk but circumvent objects, falls, danger. It still sticks out as amazing. Watching this video, I wonder what ever happened to that bot from nearly 30 yrs ago and wonder why does this spider seem to have actually gone back in time?

Re:Fast Forward (1)

onepoint (301486) | about 4 months ago | (#47516447)

I do recall that episode and was going to write about it. It was late 80's. I will say that I don't recall it being 2 feet long and I don't recall it being connected to anything. But you are exactly correct about the test. they disabled it somehow, and over the course of 5 minutes it was walking again and running some sort of search pattern.
But now I don't recall if they disabled a leg or not.

This brings on a side point:
I do recall a study about repetitive science and lab work (also coding): their study showed that about 5% to 10% of all lab work has already been done within the same firm (or university) and about 15% of all lab work is duplicated and publicly documented. My take... do a good search and most of it should be online LOL

Re:Fast Forward (1)

retech (1228598) | about 4 months ago | (#47516929)

I'm guessing on the 2 feet. But based on the room, chairs, table, etc. I think between 12 - 24 inches is the range.

It was one of the few untethered machines they had in the episode and I thought it amazing because it had no centralized intelligence. It had a core command set that told it to "walk". Or more according to them, gave it the desire to walk. How it did that was up to it.

They disabled it by flipping a switch on the back that shut it down. And it was stunning to watch it learn to stumble then walk.

I really wish this show was in the archive.org. It would be a fantastic reference point. And a great search item, that so few people do seem to do.

Re:Fast Forward (1)

onepoint (301486) | about 4 months ago | (#47517127)

a bit of research and I found
http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~chuck/r... [cmu.edu]

used this search on google.... MIT robot ants walking

came up with this

http://webcache.googleusercont... [googleusercontent.com]

history repeating itself LOL

Re:Fast Forward (1)

retech (1228598) | about 4 months ago | (#47517627)

Both are cool. But the FF episode would have had to have been from 1980-81. The memory we're talking about for me, takes place in my bedroom which would put it in that time frame. I know FF ran previous and post this time period. But I'm relatively certain the ant robot episode ran from around that time. Also recall it having a posterior much like an ant that was solely for the batteries. While the head had a few limited sensors and the main controller was in the abdomen.

Re:Fast Forward (1)

jandrese (485) | about 4 months ago | (#47517195)

This reminds me of a story I read [washingtonpost.com] a few years ago about a landmine clearing robot that was designed to have its legs blown off and still travel through the minefield.

Re:Fast Forward (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47517387)

When I saw the summary this sort of thing, from 20+ years ago was what I instantly remembered. Similar work was carried out in the UK by Kevin Warwick's group at Reading in the early 1990s.

Under two minutes of bullshit (4, Insightful)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | about 4 months ago | (#47515771)

Hey, I can make all kinds of tasks faster by precomputing much of the work and then looking it up in a table. Congratulations, you've (re)discovered another instance of a Space/Time tradeoff [wikipedia.org] .

Now, in particular what they've done is still wicked cool -- it's a great idea to perform may millions of simulations ahead of time so that at runtime (heh) you can quickly draw on that data to adapt. It would be perfectly good research even without the over-the-top claim that they've somehow made the work faster as opposed to cleverly pre-computing much of it.

But that's research -- you do something neat and then you make a ridiculous overstatement to generate buzz ...

Re:Under two minutes of bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515987)

With regards to the time/space tradeoff, a microsd holds up to 128gB and weighs .5g...

Re:Under two minutes of bullshit (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about 4 months ago | (#47516673)

What's this search nonsense ? It has pre-computed solutions for a number of scenarios, why not just look up the scenario based on the detected failure directly.

Re:Under two minutes of bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516947)

Sadly they did not have a table that allowed it to lift up the corresponding other middle leg and just use four legs like any other of a host of four legged creatures.

Sarah Conner ... (1)

PPH (736903) | about 4 months ago | (#47515779)

... had better get her ass moving!

Controlling Damaged Aircraft (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515799)

I recall about a decade ago the Department of Defense or NASA working on this sort of adaptability for controlling damaged aircraft.

An aircraft that suddenly loses use of a part of a wing or a flight control surface may still have sufficient flight control capability to fly home. The problem generally is that the pilot's control inputs won't produce the same motion responses, and the pilot generally has only seconds to map the inputs to control outputs.

The idea was for the computer to do this mapping for the pilot, so the pilot would continue to apply the appropriate inputs (to roll the plane for example). The computer would determine which of the remaining flight surfaces to employ in order to best achieve the desired motion.

One example that I recall was when the aircraft rudder was lost, yaw motion was compensated by dropping the landing gear and speed brakes on only one side of the aircraft to cause more drag on only one side, yawing the aircraft.

Is this really a breakthrough? (3, Insightful)

iONiUM (530420) | about 4 months ago | (#47515805)

Against the Slashdot rules, I read TFA and watched the entire video.

Unless I'm mistaken, all they did was create a giant array of possible motor combinations for movement, and then the robot just randomly tries them until it finds one which lets it more-or-less go in the same direction. It may not be the best one, but one that mostly works (it just stops at the first one that mostly works).

Is that really a super big breakthrough? If the robot dynamically adapted to the broken leg, and figured out how to move using some semi-intelligent algorithm, I would say that is really awesome. But this is literally just trial and error through pre-created movement specs, randomly, then just selecting one that is mostly okay.

Not trying to downplay other's achievements or research or anything, but it just doesn't seem like a big break through, unless "brute force" is something novel.

the word breakthrough appears only in your comment (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516123)

Very Slashdot of you to burn that strawman down so thoroughly. Not that you wanted to shit on the accomplishments of others, but it just feels so good...

Re:Is this really a breakthrough? (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | about 4 months ago | (#47517085)

> Is that really a super big breakthrough?

Searching through look-up tables?

Nah, not really.

Re:Is this really a breakthrough? (1)

complete loony (663508) | about 4 months ago | (#47519635)

And chess AI's don't play in the same way as humans.

Re:Is this really a breakthrough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47522353)

"all they did was create a giant array of possible motor combinations for movement".

I'm sure it couldn't possibly have taken a ton of effort, and a large skillset to put it all together... You could've knocked it off in an afternoon, but just never felt like it, right?

Not that much intelligent adaptation (1)

Arkan (24212) | about 4 months ago | (#47515809)

As far as I understood the article, everything is based on a behavioral repertoire... The only advancement of the study would be the confidence mapping of said repertoire? Wouldn't it be better to work toward the automatic creation of this repertoire by the robot itself?

As the Black Knight says... (2)

alexhs (877055) | about 4 months ago | (#47515881)

When animals lose a limb, they learn to hobble remarkably quickly.

Right, I'll do you for that!
It's just a flesh wound.

Lol, Behaviors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47515939)

I remember when "behaviors" the word was used to describe animal "tricks". As the work tricks was considered not politically correct anymore. When can we call these roboot skills "tricks". Because in no way do I think this is a behavior in anyway.

How long to prevent it? (3, Funny)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 4 months ago | (#47516167)

How long will it take that robot to figure out how to stop the researchers from breaking its legs in the first place?

Losing one out of six legs should be trivial (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47516431)

Why does it have such difficulty walking on five legs out of six? Four would probably be plenty. It could even lift the one opposite of the broken one just to make things simpler and symmetric.

A.I. development (1)

angelbar (1823238) | about 4 months ago | (#47517549)

Stop all A.I. development ! All we need is to simulate the entire universe posibilities in a database. Then focus on designing a database bigger than the universe itself tu put it on every computer.

Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47518127)

Allow me to make a symantec correction to the story. There are only 3 spacial dimensions that any robot has to contend with. 4 If you include time, but the robot may have to deal with 6 axis on each motor. X, Y, Z, Yaw, Pitch, Roll and those six axis would be multiplied times each limb (6 x 6 = 36).

Axis, not dimensions.

Don't Lose Control of Robots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47519357)

Sort of scary. Maybe the next trick robots will learn is to keep themselves going, if you try to stop them. You pull out its main battery, it (running on reserve battery) puts a new battery in.

Suppose you can't power off a computer. So you unplug it. Running on battery power, the computer reaches out a mechanical arm, and plugs itself back in.

Soon it will be a good idea to put Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics [wikipedia.org] into operating systems.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?