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According to Fast Company (This article and its images were originally posted on Fast Company January 18, 2019 at 09:02AM.)
This week, the computer chip company Nvidia opened a new robotics lab in Seattle. The lab has a lot of what you might expect–loads of electronics and robotic parts, work spaces, and computers everywhere–but the centerpiece is a bit unorthodox: It’s an Ikea kitchen.
That’s because University of Washington robotics professor Dieter Fox, who is on leave from the university to head up this Nvidia lab, believes that the kitchen is the perfect test-bed for the robots of the future.Right now, most commercialized robots are either navigation robots that can deliver items from point A to point B in warehouses, hospitals, hotels, and maybe even urban areas, or they’re “manipulation” robots, which are almost entirely found in factories. These robots move objects around, and they’re optimized to do so over and over again in a very precise way. That means they’re easily programmable and don’t require any intelligence to do their work. According to Fox, the next big challenge for robotics is to develop manipulation robots that can work in an open-ended, changing environment–in other words, anywhere outside of a robot-only factory. These robots will need to be smart enough to perceive how their surroundings change over time. Importantly, they’ll need to interact with humans.
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