Artificial Intelligence once something that people thought could only come out of science fiction novels and movies. But today that could all change because of a robot called Cog. Cog is an artificial intelligence that it’s creators have given a body. He is the future of AI and a new beginning for the field.
His creator , Rogney Brooks, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science, thought of creating cog, from inspiration from an artificial intelligence that was depicted in the movie, “2001:A Space Odyssey.” In the movie, Hal, the AI, controlled a large space craft. Instead of creating a brain in a box like in the movie, Rodney is putting the mind of a human into the body of a robot. Cog isn’t yet a true humanoid robot. Right now he is little more that a head, neck , shoulders, chest and waist. He is perched on a gray steel pedestal bolted to the floor of the Artificial intelligence lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Still no other machine has come closer to the humanoid robots of science fiction. Cog foreshadows the day in which robots will interact normally with us. Cog’s creators are trying to do just that.
Cog is a very far cry from what HAL was thought, because he has some anatomy. HAL was just basically a brain in a box. What they are trying to accomplish with cog, is to equip a brain with a body, that has sensors so that it can learn about its environment on its own, much like a infant does.
Creating a humanoid was a big leap for Brooks. His last venture in to the AI world made a big impression on the artificial-Intelligence community. He created small robots the scurried around like insects. It turns out though, that these small creatures have much in common with Cog. They both do no use the usual AI approach that most other Mobil robots use. These other robots, would have to carry a complete map of the world that the machine will encounter. That would work fine in the lab, Brooks reasoned, but what about the real world with it’s vast space and many unfamiliar obstacles. To over overcome this problem, Brooks programmed this little robots with so-called parallel behaviors. He didn’t need the all-encompassing maps others used, just simple leg routines, such as up-down and forward-back motions the operate in parallel. On the robot’s legs sensors warded of obstacles and triggered these behaviors like reflexes. These machines ran riot in the lab where gradua!
te students built new obstacles courses for them every day. The insect like robots managed to conquer all. Cog represents the basic same principal, but a few steps beyond.
Brooks plans to take Cog a long way. Right now , Cog is learning how to see, and relate what he sees to his head motion, to be able to know what motion in the world, and what is dew to his head movement. They are letting Cog learn by its self. There are also plans to make ears for cog so that he may learn to hear. They have all ready completed a poly styrene head that is complete with micro-phones and processors. The first step in teaching Cog to hear is to map sensor coordination between the eyes and ears. With the done, when cog hears a sound, he will point his eyes at it, and then if he sees motion, that will reinforce what he just heard with the coordination of the two. Sound will help cog figure out where to look, but he will also be able to separate sounds, like people can do at a noisy cocktail party. These senses will help it to be able to interact with its environment and learn about its own body. What it sees verses what it is doing.
There are also plans to give Cog the ability to be able to reach out and touch someone. Right now he has no arms at all. He can lean forwards and sideways at the hips, and turn its head, but that is all at the moment.
Williamson, a graduate student on the Cog team, is building Cog’s first arm as a part of his Ph.D. research. Cog’s arms will have compliance unlike some other robotic arms that are available right now. Compliance is a way of dealing with any obstacle. If you are feeling around in the dark, for example, and you encounter a brick wall, your arms compliance lets you stop pushing with out you consciously thinking about it. Without compliance, Brooks says that cog’s robot arm might knock a hole through our bellies.(Popular Mechanics) But with it cogs arm will be able to adapt to unexpected barriers.
Cog is made of 16 Motorola 68332 chips, which are all together in an adjacent room. He is also planned to receive 256 of these chips. Cog’s brain, even thought not modeled after a human one, will be able to handle multiple functions at once. Although it has vast amounts of computing power, cog will be considered a great success if it reaches the intelligence level of a two-year old child.
Cog is just the first step in humanoid-robots, and AI. It has started a new era of computers and their uses. Some day because of the work this kind of work, we may be able to own house hold robots that could talk to us and carry on a normal conversation with us. This technology opens many doors that could lead anywhere.