Meet HERB, a Home-Exploring Robot Butler created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, as part of the Lifelong Robotic Object Discovery.
The robot, which is armed with a Kinect camera and relies on computer vision, has programming that includes a memory loaded with digital models and images of objects to aid in recognition. The goal is to create a robot that not only recognizes what it has already been taught, but grows that information on its own, without the database being expanded manually. It does this not only through simply seeing things, but also by exploring the environment and interacting with objects in it.
The Kinect camera helps to aid HERB in three-dimensional recognition, while the location of an object is also telling. Additionally, HERB can distinguish between items that move and those that don’t. As it interacts with its environment, it eventually is able to determine if something is an object, meaning if something can be lifted.
This information can later lead to robots that do things for humans, such as bringing them items or helping to clean. And while there is still a ways to go, the possibilities seem to be endless.