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Sci-Tech

This MIT robot is better at picking up mugs than you

Researchers say the robot can interact with objects its never seen before in a meaningful way.

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This robot can pick up and place down an object without having seen it before. 

MIT

Robots may one day help you with chores like unloading the dishwasher or cleaning the kitchen.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) earlier this week said they've developed robots that can do many different pick-and-place tasks without having seen the objects they're dealing with. 

"Robots can pick almost anything up, but if it's an object they haven't seen before, they can't actually put it down in any meaningful way," said Russ Tedrake, a senior author of the project and MIT professor, in a blog post. "Understanding just a little bit more about the object -- the location of a few key points -- is enough to enable a wide range of useful manipulation tasks."

CSAIL's robots can estimate an object's position and orientation by detecting a collection of "key points" or coordinates of an object. The key points can resonate with the system's database and will tell the robots what to do with the object, whether it's a mug or a shoe.

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Earlier this month, MIT made a little Mini Cheetah robot that can run, scoot sideways, hop and do backflips. MIT in January created a robot that uses vision and touch to remove Jenga blocks without toppling the tower.

The team hopes its robots will be able to accomplish more complex tasks in the next step, such as unloading the dishwasher or cleaning the kitchen counter, according to the blog post.