Robots are already manipulating arms almost as fast as humans

(ORDO NEWS) — UC Berkeley researchers have developed a new robotic method for folding clothes at a record speed (for robots) called SpeedFolding.

The previous record has been exceeded by almost 10 times. A robot equipped with SpeedFolding takes about one and a half minutes to fold one thing.

Human hands are an amazingly complex creation of nature. And robots are still far from the capabilities of human hands. But the speed with which robots develop their skills is impressive.

There are directions in which a person can no longer keep up with robots – for example, they can fly.

But there are actions that are very simple, even routine for a person, which until very recently were practically unattainable for robots.

It’s almost all handmade. Take a fragile object, do not break or drop it. Fold your shirt or towel and put it away in the closet.

A person performs such “manual” actions, almost without paying attention, but at the same time, the brain (mainly the cerebellum) uses very serious resources.

We recently wrote about robots, whose long and strong grips can manipulate fragile objects.

Scientists from the University of California, Berkeley have taught an industrial robot how to fold clothes and underwear.

He does it more slowly than a human: the robot folds 30-40 pieces of clothing per hour, that is, it takes about 1.5-2 minutes to fold a T-shirt.

We’re still getting the job done faster. But the previous record-breaking robot for folding spent 15-20 minutes on one thing.

Working hands of the robot

The Berkeley-developed system runs on a YuMI IRB 14000 robot that costs $58,000. In general, it would hardly occur to anyone to use it, not as a research prototype, but as a working clothes stacker.

But now this is not the main thing. Robots master hands: deep learning systems capture and reproduce both human actions and the actions of the robot itself.

And gradually accumulate experience and increase speed. What else needs to be said about the new record holder – he is two-armed. All previous folding robots were single-armed.

And the record holder really folds clothes almost like a person: with two hands and two fingers on each hand (you may not have paid attention, but usually a person is used when folding clothes with two hands and a thumb and forefinger on each).

Scientists believe that the result can be further improved and a prototype can be developed that will fold and sort not only clothes, but also sort agricultural products and manufactured goods.

And perhaps then Amazon will no longer hire 150-200 thousand seasonal workers around Christmas, but will simply release a certain number of reserve stacker robots from storage. But so far this is still far away.


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