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Projecting a Robot's Intentions

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MIT researchers explain their new visualization system that can project a robot's "thoughts."

MIT researchers say their new visualization system that can project a robot's intentions in real time.

Credit: Melanie Gonick/MIT

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed measurable virtual reality (MVR), a new visualization system that combines ceiling-mounted projectors with motion-capture technology and animation software to project a robot's intentions in real time.

The new system could help speed up the development of self-driving cars, package-delivering drones, and other autonomous, route-planning vehicles.

"If you can see the robot's plan projected on the ground, you can connect what it perceives with what it does to make sense of its actions," says MIT researcher Ali-akbar Agha-mohammadi.

MVR's creators mounted 18 motion-capture cameras on the ceiling to track multiple robotic vehicles at the same time. They then developed computer software that visually renders "hidden" information, such as a robot's possible routes and its perception of an obstacle's position. This information was then projected on the ground in real time as the robots moved around.

The new system allowed researchers to identify problems in the underlying algorithms and make improvements much faster than before.

"Now we have the capability to show low-level information in a physical manner, so you don't have to go deep into your code, or restructure your vision of how your algorithm works," says MIT researcher Shayegan Omidshafiei.

From MIT News
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