Teaching Robots to Use Language

Equipping robots with language and learning capabilities could take some of the heat off human handlers, enabling the robots to navigate tough tasks in small groups.

What's the Latest Development?


Researchers at the University of Delaware are designing robot language that follows the same complex patterns as human language, teaching robots to communicate using their own kind of sentences. "'So a robot's 'sentence' in a sense, is just a sequence of actions that it is conducting,' said Jeffrey Heinz, a linguist at the University of Delaware. 'And there will be constraints on the kinds of sequences of actions that a robot can do.'" If a complex robot language can be developed, machines could take action without relying on a human to give commands. 

What's the Big Idea?

The reseachers' idea is for robots to modify themselves, becoming more capable without humans inputting more information. "Communication between robots gives them an ability to learn about their environments and other robots, if they catalogue this incoming information. 'We would like to make the robots adaptive—learn about their environment and reconfigure themselves based on the knowledge they acquire,' explains researcher Bret Tanner, also of the University of Delaware. Each robot would have different abilities and follow a different set of rules, so the robots could work together to accomplish tasks."

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