Researchers Are Finally Teaching Robots To Be Less Stabby

Most of the news coming out of robotics research has us really worried about mankind’s future, but Cornell University finally brings us a glimmer of hope. Researchers there are working on developing an algorithm through physical feedback that will teach robots to be more careful with certain objects — like say when handling a sharp knife around highly stabbable humans.

The robot is free to first perform movements it assumes are ok, but a human operator can intervene at any point with the push of a button and then adjust the bot’s trajectory and movements to something a little safer. So, for example, if it grabs a knife and is unaware the long blade can cause significant damage, the human operator can move the robot’s arm to a safer position, and over time the algorithm will learn to be more careful when handling sharp objects.

The research isn’t just about protecting humans, though. A robot could be taught to handle fragile items like eggs or LCD screens with greater care, making them more effective in a factory setting. But on the flip side to all the good this research could do, is it really such a great idea to reinforce the idea for robots that knives and humans don’t mix? [Cornell University via TechCrunch]