A robot takes its first steps toward being human

Will robots soon be able to teach themselves … everything? There’s a robot in California teaching itself to walk. Its name is Darwin, and like a toddler, it teeters back and forth in a UC Berkeley lab, trying and falling, and then trying again before getting it right. But it’s not actually Darwin doing all this. It’s a neural network designed to mimic the human brain. Darwin’s baby steps speak to what many researchers believe will be the greatest leap in robotics — a kind of general machine learning that allows robots to adapt to new situations rather than respond to narrow programming. Robots are pretty good at walking on flat ground, but anytime a variable is introduced, like a step or a slope, they often can’t adapt. Earlier this…


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