Robots learn faster, better with online helpers

Sometimes it takes a village to teach a robot.

The UW’s robot builds a turtle model.

University of Washington computer scientists have shown that crowdsourcing can be a quick and effective way to teach a robot how to complete tasks. Instead of learning from just one human, robots could one day query the larger online community, asking for instructions or input on the best way to set the table or water the garden.

The UW’s robot builds a turtle model.

The research team presented its results at the 2014 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Hong Kong in early June.

“We’re trying to create a method for a robot to seek help from the whole world when it’s puzzled by something,” said Rajesh Rao, an associate professor of computer science and engineering and director of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering at the UW. “This is a way to go beyond just one-on-one interaction between a human and a robot by also learning from other humans around the world.”

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