Robot Toddler Learns to Stand by “Imagining” How to Do It

Darwin tries moving its torso around under the control of several neural networks. Like many toddlers, Darwin sometimes looks a bit unsteady on its feet. But with each clumsy motion, the humanoid robot is demonstrating an important new way for androids to deal with challenging or unfamiliar environments. The robot learns to perform a new task by using a process somewhat similar to the neurological processes that underpin childhood learning.Darwin lives in the lab of Pieter Abbeel, an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley. When I saw the robot a few weeks ago, it was suspended from a camera tripod by a piece of rope, looking a bit tragic. A little while earlier, Darwin had been wriggling around on the end of the rope, trying to work out…


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