In theory, robots aren't designed to make mistakes. But a University College London (UCL) project team is hoping errors in how software "sees" optical illusions can make robots more like humans--mistakes and all.
Project leaders Dr. R. Beau Lotto and David Corney at the UCL institute of Ophthalmology say the study provides unprecedented insight into how the human eye can be fooled by lighting and shading. Instead of simulating the human brain, the software simulates learning patterns from past visual experiences.
The UCL Institute of Ophthalmology study recreated the vision errors using software that "learns" colors and shading based on thousands of images. After the software was trained to predict the shade of colors from those images, it was subjected to shade-based optical illusions.
The illusion in question involves viewing the same shade of color on two different backgrounds. The human eye often sees the color as darker when it's on a lighter background and lighter when it's on a darker background.
And just like the human eye, the program saw shades as lighter when they appeared on a dark background and darker when they appeared on a light background.
These errors can be helpful in simulating exactly how and what humans see, which paves the way for "smarter," mistake-making robots.