Google is combining the eyes and arms of physical robots with the knowledge and conversation skills of virtual chatbots to help its employees easily fetch soda and chips from the breakroom. Mechanical waiters, shown in action to reporters last week, incorporate an artificial intelligence breakthrough that makes it easier to control multi-purpose robots that perform single, structured tasks such as vacuuming or standing guard.
The company’s robots are not ready for sale. They only perform a few dozen simple actions, and the company has yet to embed them with the familiar “Ok, Google” summon feature for consumers.
While Google says it is developing responsibly, adoption could eventually stem from concerns such as robots becoming surveillance machines, or being equipped with chat technology that could elicit an aggressive response, as Meta and others have pointed out. experienced in recent years.
Microsoft and Amazon are doing comparable research on robots.
“It’s going to take some time before we can really get a firm grasp on the direct business impact,” said Vincent VanHock, Google’s senior director of robotics research.
When asked to help clean up a spill, Google’s robot admits that grabbing a sponge is an appropriate and more sensible response than apologizing for causing the mess.
Robots naturally interpret spoken commands, weighing possible actions against their abilities and planning small steps to achieve the asking.
The series is made possible by infusing robots with language technology that draws on understanding of the world from Wikipedia, social media and other webpages. Google said similar AI underlies chatbots or virtual assistants, but it hasn’t been widely implemented on robots before.
It disclosed this effort in a research paper in April. Since then the inclusion of the more sophisticated language AI has increased the robot’s success on command from 61 percent to 74 percent, according to the company’s blog post on Tuesday.
Everyday Robots, a subsidiary of Fellow Alphabet, designs the robots, which for now will be limited to grabbing snacks for employees.
© Thomson Reuters 2022