Saturday, February 10, 2007

An Overview of Humanoid Robotics

Through idle surfing of the 'net, I came across a tutorial on Humanoid Robotics, their historical and current development, and potential scenarios for the the future. It's over at the homepage of the Idaho National Laboratory. Using a quote from the introduction explaining what the tutorial covers:

"This site traverses a wide variety of Humanoid Robotics projects throughout the world, explaining the diverse goals of the field and why humanoid robots are uniquely suited to meet these goals. As we review successes and failures in the field, we provide a contextual backdrop for understanding where humanoid research began, the dilemmas it currently struggles with, and where it may take us in the future. Imagination is the bow from which the technology, science and art of Humanoid Robotics takes flight. As we try to discern where the bow is aimed, the paper also asks whether we are ready for the changes that will follow."

I have to admit that I havent read all of it yet, but it seems at first blush to be an interesting read if nothing else. So far, I particularly like the section entitled "Building Intelligence from the bottom up", which provides a very brief overview of the approaches which are taken in attempting to create artificial intelligence, such as artificial neural networks, reinforcement learning, and genetic algorithms - and even their integration:

"For instance, a designer can use a neural network to implicitly encode low-level motor control for an arm-reaching behavior and then use reinforcement learning to train the humanoid when to reach and when to grasp. If the humanoid still struggles, the designer might, for instance, optimize behavior using a genetic algorithm to tweak parameters controlling rotational torque. "

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