A group of research scientists from Philips and several European universities have developed a world wide web for robots, allowing them to share information and learn from one another. Funded by the European Union, this four year project will be tested at the university in Eindhoven in a hospital-like setting.
The system, named RoboEarth, will be used by four robots to carry out a set of tasks, like serving drinks to patients.
Project leader for RoboEarth, Rene van de Molengraft, said: “At its core RoboEarth is a world wide web for robots: a giant network and database repository where robots can share information and learn from each other.”
The whole point of the system is to provide robots (and humans) with a cloud-based database, on to which information can be loaded and then it can act like a common brain for machines.
“The problem right now is that robots are often developed specifically for one task,” said Molengraft. “A task like opening a box of pills can be shared on RoboEarth, so other robots can also do it without having to be programmed for that specific type of box,” he added.
A cloud-based system such as this will mean that in the future robots will need less on-board computing and battery capacity, as some of the computing tasks will be off-loaded on to the cloud.
There is concern over the dangers of robots developing their own intelligence. James Barratt, an author who has written of these dangers, says there needs to be protective measures in place.
“In the longer term, watch out when any of the nodes can evolve or otherwise improve their own software. The consequences of sharing that capability with the central ‘mind’ should be explored before it happens,” he said.
SOURCE: University Of Eindhoven