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See Google's AI-Powered Robot at Work in a Kitchen

Google's PaLM-SayCan project uses AI-based language understanding to tell the difference between ketchup and hamburger buns.

Stephen Shankland
Stephen Shankland worked at CNET from 1998 to 2024 and wrote about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
Stephen Shankland
A wheeled robot carries a bag of chips through a Google office kitchen
1 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google PaLM-SayCan Robot

A Google PaLM-SayCan robot retrieves a bag of chips from a drawer in an employee kitchen area. The robot uses AI language processing to interpret human commands, then narrows down its range of possible responses using a set of about 100 general skills it's been trained to employ.

A Google robot grasps a Pepsi can with its articulated mechanical arm
2 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google PaLM-SayCan Robot Picks up a Can

A Google PaLM-SayCan Robot grasps a Pepsi can to put into a recycle bin.

A collection of digital camera lenses appear on the front of a the mechanical face of a robot from Alphabet's Everyday Robot division
3 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google PaLM-SayCan Robot 'Face'

Google's robots, built by parent company Alphabet's experimental Everyday Robots division, have a collection of digital camera sensors, including a pair used for stereo vision depth perception.

A Google PaLM-SayCan robot carries a sponge in its yellow gripper
4 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Sponge-Fetching Google PaLM-SayCan Robot

Google's PaLM-SayCan robots are able to interpret human instructions, for example by fetching a sponge after a human asked for help with a spilled drink. The human didn't ask for a sponge, but the robot concluded that getting one would be the best way to help from the range of skills it was trained to handle.

A robotic arm scoops a thrown lacrosse ball out of the air
5 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google Lacrosse Ball Catching Robot

Google trains robots to catch lacrosse balls, an exercise in precision and speed.

A Google Robot bats a ping-pong ball back and forth with a human
6 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google Robot Plays Table Tennis

This Google robot slides rapidly from side to side along a track to bat a ping-pong ball back and forth with a human player. The work essentially helps Google improve robotic reflexes as the machines move through the real world.

Eight Google PaLM-StayCan Robots practices manipulations like opening drawers and grabbing objects
7 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google PaLM-StayCan Robots in Training

An octet of Google PaLM-StayCan Robots practices manipulations like opening drawers and grabbing objects

A Google robot carries a bag of chips to a human who requested it
8 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google PaLM-SayCan Robot Carries Chips

A Google PaLM-SayCan robot carries a bag of chips to a human who requested it.

A robot face with a green glowing rim
9 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google PaLM-SayCan Robot Face

The Everyday Robots machines have a glowing green rim around their faces to signify when they're active. It changes color or switches off in other circumstances.

A large Android statue in Google's robotics offices labeled with a black and white QR code for roaming robots to scan.
10 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google Android Statue With QR Code

Items in Google's robotics offices, including this large Android statue, are labeled with black-and-white QR codes for roaming robots to scan.

A Google robot drops a Pepsi can into a recycle bin
11 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google PaLM-SayCan Robot Recycles a Can

A Google PaLM-SayCan Robot drops a Pepsi can into a recycle bin.

A suction-powered manipulator stacks up toy ketchup and mustard bottles on a human's request
12 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google PaLM-SayCan Robot

A suction-powered manipulator on a Google PaLM-SayCan robot knows just what objects to grab when asked to stack condiments in a blue tray.

A stack of burger ingredients stacked by a Google robot, including an entire ketchup bottle tucked underneath the lettuce
13 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google PaLM-SayCan Robot Burger

Google's PaLM-SayCan means robots know which ingredients to use when instructed to "build a burger," though perhaps a human wouldn't actually put a ketchup bottle atop the burger patty.

A Google robot reaches for a sponge among items on a kitchen counter
14 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Look out, Sponge

A Google robot spots a sponge among items on a countertop, with intent to grab it.

A Google robot grips a sponge on a kitchen counter
15 of 15 Stephen Shankland/CNET

A Google Grabs a Sponge

A Google robot grasps for a sponge among items on a kitchen counter

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