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Aided by A.I. Language Models, Google's Robots Are Getting Smart

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Googles latest robotics model, the RT-2.

A quiet revolution is underway in robotics, one that piggybacks on recent advances in so-called large language models—the same type of artificial intelligence system that powers ChatGPT, Bard, and other chatbots.

Credit: Kelsey McClellan/The New York Times

A one-armed robot stood in front of a table. On the table sat three plastic figurines: a lion, a whale and a dinosaur.

An engineer gave the robot an instruction: "Pick up the extinct animal."

The robot whirred for a moment, then its arm extended and its claw opened and descended. It grabbed the dinosaur.

Until very recently, this demonstration, which I witnessed during a podcast interview at Google's robotics division in Mountain View, Calif., last week, would have been impossible. Robots weren't able to reliably manipulate objects they had never seen before, and they certainly weren't capable of making the logical leap from "extinct animal" to "plastic dinosaur."

From The New York Times
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