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Researchers train robots to see into the future

Robots usually react in real time: something happens, they respond. Now researchers University of California, Berkeley are working on a system that lets robots “imagine the future of their actions” so that they can interact with things they’ve never seen before.

The technology is called visual foresight and it allows “robots to predict what their cameras will see if they perform a particular sequence of movements.”

Write the researchers:

These robotic imaginations are still relatively simple for now – predictions made only several seconds into the future – but they are enough for the robot to figure out how to move objects around on a table without disturbing obstacles. Crucially, the robot can learn to perform these tasks without any help from humans or prior knowledge about physics, its environment or what the objects are. That’s because the visual imagination is learned entirely from scratch from unattended and unsupervised exploration, where the robot plays with objects on a table. After this play phase, the robot builds a predictive model of the world, and can use this model to manipulate new objects that it has not seen before.