Ever tried to "push" an object with a rope?

Robo Brain logo. Credit: Saxena Lab

No, I guess not because it would never come to mind to use a rope for pushing an object. With a rope you "pull" an object. This kind of knowledge is somehow ingrained in our brain and we don't need to think about it. It is a knowledge that probably nobody has taught us we just learned on the way.

This knowledge is not a minor part of what makes our life possibile, in a way it is possibly what makes our life possibile, much more than knowing how to solve a mathematical equation.

What about robots? How can a robot know about the world if it does not have this "common sense" knowledge?

This is what Robo Brain is set up to solve.  Robo Brain is a large scale computational system that learns by accessing 1 billion images on the web, 120,000 YouTube videos, and 100 million "how-to-do" documents that can be found on the web.

By processing this information a robot learns that a cup of coffee has to be taken by the handle, that if there is coffee inside it has to be kept level whilst if the cup is taken from the washing machine it can be handled upside down.

Robo Brain is a collaborative effort by researchers at Cornell, Stanford, Brown, Berkeley and University of California. The idea is that a robot can use the Robo Brain knowledge by accessing it via Internet. Robo Brain uses what is called "structured deep learning" to create a stratified knowledge as it looks at images, videos and how to do documents. This knowledge is searched AND adapted to respond to the query of a robot. Additionally, the Robo Brain grows its knowledge through crowdsourcing, by sharing its knowledge and letting the "crowd" to update and increase its knowledge.

Author - Roberto Saracco

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