Anticipatory robot holding open a fridge door

What’s better than as robot bartender that can pour you a beer? How about a robot waiter that can see you need a refill and comes over to pour you another one.

Hema S. Koppula, a Cornell graduate student in computer science, and Ashutosh Saxena, an assistant professor of computer science are working at Cornell’s Personal Robotics Lab on just such a robot. Using a PR-2 robot, they’ve programmed it to not only carry out everyday tasks, but to anticipate human behavior and adjust its actions.

Robots are the neat freaks of the technology world. They like things to be tidy, orderly and predictable, meaning they work best in places like laboratories and factories where everything can be controlled and where it’s easy to predict what’s going to happen next. When a robot moves out of its comfort zone into our imperfect world, it can run into difficulties. Even something as seemingly simple as noticing that someone’s glass is empty and topping it up requires a lot of observation and planning on the robot’s part.

The Cornell anticipatory robot avoids embarrassing spills and other accidents by using its Microsoft Kinect scanner to build up a 3D map of the objects present and then calculating how they might be used based on the action currently being performed by the person…

The robot is also able to put various subactivities together in different combinations to form models of larger activities that it can use to anticipate the movements of people in different situations. The models it builds are general enough to take into account the fact that different people will perform the same activity slightly differently.

Technology serving the core needs of human culture.



  1. Mr Diesel says:

    What would be better is a lifelike French Maid robot that could come over and give you a handy.

  2. msbpodcast says:

    What’s better than as robot bartender that

    They need copy editors.

    Now, onto the thoughts I originally had…

    I remember that robot. It costs, like, $250,000. It weighs around 900 lbs and looks it. It comes in a huge packing crate that looks like an upright piano case. Its a hulking behemoth. I’d be scared of it falling on me.

    Using that to fetch brewskies is funny, ’cause it looks like the ‘fridge itself is coming straight at you.

    I’m just wondering about the software for this. Does it have a termination condition to act as an off switch?

    I can just see this thing pouring drinks long past the time it should have carried the drunken students to their rooms.

  3. jpfitz says:

    Get up and walk to the fridge. If your that lazy, fat or too drunk then maybe it’s time to not have that refill.

    You know your a redneck if you sell your new pickup for the refill robot.

    You know your a redneck if you live in a trailer and the robot falls through the floor.

    • NotJeff says:

      You know YOU’RE a redneck if you cannot distinguish between “your” and “you’re”…

      :-P

    • The Monster's Lawyer says:

      A true redneck would never trade his pickup for anything. Maybe his wife-daughter but never his pickup or dog.
      Now if you’re a kanuck like msbpodcast….well anything goes. eh.
      I’ll take another Molsons over here!

      • jpfitz says:

        Not anything, Hockey night is sacred.

        Me and some buddies drove to Canada just to bring down cases of Molsons in the late 70′s.

  4. jpfitz says:

    Ok, ok you got me. I stink at English, and my neck is usually red. Ya, didn’t have to yell. Obvious mistake poking at a wittle device whose name is an oxymoron.

    Thank you, I murder the English language. I’m forever learning and forgetting.

    http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/who's.html

  5. jpfitz says:

    Why the beer connection to a machine capable of performing tasks for the infirm and in hospital settings? College setting is my guess.

  6. sargasso_c says:

    Let’s try it making a dirty martini.

  7. Captain Beyond says:

    I would be very interested to know what bobbo has to say about this.

  8. jpfitz says:

    bobbo is probably having a few to warm up for something he has no control over, fate. If you believe in that sort of consciousness.

  9. Angel H. Wong says:

    Dear MIT students

    Why you don’t do useful research like the Cornell kids?

  10. Chris Mac says:

    My cats breath smells like cat food.