Google has found a new way to make robots deal with complex real-world situations by training them how to understand language.
The tech giant is employing its latest artificial intelligence software known as large language models.
It is being used on robots from Everyday Robots, the experimental division of parent Alphabet.
Instead of encoding exact technical instructions for each task, researchers can talk with them in conversational language.
The robots can learn instructions they’ve never heard before and respond with logical responses and actions.
In a demonstration last week, a researcher asked a robot, “I’m hungry, can you get me a snack?”
The robot then searched through a cafeteria, opened a drawer, found a bag of chips, and brought it to the human.
Google executives and researchers pointed out that this is the first time language models have been integrated into robots.
Brian Ichter, a research scientist at Google and one of the authors of a new paper released Tuesday describing the progress the company has made, said: “This is very fundamentally a different paradigm”
Language models work by using massive amounts of text posted online to train artificial intelligence software to predict what kinds of responses might follow specific questions or comments.
The models have become so precise at predicting the correct response that interacting with one often feels like conversing with a knowledgeable human.
Robots are already commonplace, with millions of them working in factories around the world.
But they are programmed to follow specific instructions and typically focus on one or two tasks.
Amazon also uses several robots in its warehouses and is experimenting with drone delivery.
Tesla is developing general-purpose robots and has created autonomous driving features for its cars.
The bots are already cleaning counters and throwing out trash in various Google cafeterias.
Google’s robots, on the other hand, are far from ready for the real world.
Google’s researchers and executives have repeatedly stated that they are simply running a research lab and have no plans to commercialize the technology.
The company is currently facing a lawsuit from an ex-employee who claims its robot technology is sentient.
Source: The Washington Post