Cognitive Robots Companions: a vision
'Developing cognitive robots whose "purpose in life" would be to serve humans as assistants or "companions". Such robots would be able to learn new skills and tasks in an active open-ended way and to grow in constant interaction and co-operation with humans. (excerpt of the European Commission's 'Beyond Robotics' workprogramme
The development of a robot, which would serve humans in their daily life, poses several important challenges to Robotics and Artificial Intelligence.
As a mechatronic device, the robot should of course be endowed with mobility and manipulation capacities in human environments. But the robot being in permanent interaction with humans in a changing context and varying situations, it cannot be only considered as a ready-made device.
The dynamics of the tasks it has to achieve, of the situations, and of the interactions with humans, imply that such a robot companion will have to exhibit cognitive capacities for adapting its behaviour in changing situations and for various tasks.
It will have to understand its spatial surroundings, to make decisions according to its own evaluation of its situation, and to interact closely with humans both physically and through multimodal dialogue.
Such capacities cannot be pre-programmed, but will have to be learned, and open-ended learning processes will therefore be at the core of every function, all the more as the robot companion must also adapt to its human partner and learn new skills to be able to respond to the humans' needs.
To see the project's vision in a video click here.
COGNIRON - The Cognitive Robot Companion: Project Objectives
The overall objectives of this project are to study the perceptual, representational, reasoning and learning capabilities of embodied robots in human centred environments. The project develops methods and technologies for the construction of such cognitive robots, able to evolve and grow their capacities in close interaction with humans in an open-ended fashion.
Expected results are basic methods, algorithms and architectures and their integration and long-term experimentation and scientific evaluation on embodied robotic systems in different settings and situations.
In the focus of this research endeavour is the development of a robot whose ultimate task is to serve humans as a companion in their daily life. The robot is not only considered as a ready-made device but as an artificial creature, which improves its capabilities in a continuous process of acquiring new knowledge and skills.
Besides the necessary functions for sensing, moving and acting, such a robot will exhibit the cognitive capacities enabling it to focus its attention, to understand the spatial and dynamic structure of its environment and to interact with it, to exhibit a social behaviour and communicate with other agents and with humans at the appropriate level of abstraction according to context.
The design of the cognitive functions of this artificial creature and the study and development of the continuous learning, training and education process in the course of which it will mature to a true companion, are the central research themes of the project.