Could a Robot Learn By Itself?

Ashutosh Saxena

Photo Source Cornell Engineering

“We now live in a world where robots are helping humans in their daily lives, and just like humans, robots need to learn new skills in order to do their jobs successfully. And we shouldn’t expect a robot to learn on its own from scratch, any more than we’d expect a human to do so—imagine a child growing up with no access to textbooks, libraries, or the Internet.” – Ashutosh Saxena

What if robots could learn to carry out tasks autonomously? In other words, when giving a robot a new task it could “figure out” on it’s own how to do it? This is exactly the question that Ashutosh Saxena is working to answer.

Professor Saxena is a roboticist at Cornell University working to develop a massive online search engine that robots could access and find the required knowledge to carry out tasks, the aptly named RoboBrain. When given a question, RoboBrain will search the internet for relevant knowledge databases and images, sidestepping the need to teach robots to do tasks through step by step instructions.

“In 2014, I started a project called RoboBrain at Cornell University along with PhD students Ashesh Jain and Ozan Sener. We now have collaborators at Stanford and Brown. What we’re working on is a way of sharing information that allows robots to gather whatever knowledge they need for a task,” writes Saxena. “If one robot learns, then the knowledge is propagated to all the robots. RoboBrain achieves this by gathering the knowledge from a variety of sources. The system stores multiple kinds of information, including symbols, natural language, visual or shape features, haptic properties, and motions.”

The implications of such a project, if successful, could be enormous. It would lead to an increase in efficiency and reduce downtime and spending spent in “training” robots how to carry out tasks. RoboBrain could also lead to robots with more capacity to carry out objectives than previously intended.

Saxena’s work has garnered him several awards and recognition, including Eight Innovators to Watch in 2015, Smithsonian Institution; World Technology Award, 2015; The 50-years of Shakey at AAAI-RSS Blue Sky Ideas award, 2015; RSS Early Career Award, 2014; NSF Career award, 2013; Microsoft Faculty Fellow, 2012; Alfred P. Sloan Fellow, 2011; Best Cognitive Robotics paper, IROS’14. Best student paper, RSS’13; CUAir at AUVSI’12: First prize, mission performance; Google Faculty Research Award, 2012.

These breakthroughs in robotic learning coupled with the unparalleled potential of a developed RoboBrain is what makes Ashush Saxena our pick for “Featured Innovator of the Month.”

Note: Ashush Saxena does not work for Willamette Valley Company nor is he affiliated with our company.

Sources:

Stanford University

Rethink Robotics Youtube

MIT Technology Review

Smithsonian

New Product Spotlight: FAMOWOOD® GLAZE COAT® High Build Epoxy Coating from Eclectic Products, Inc.

glaze-coat-family-usEclectic Products, Inc., a subsidiary of the Willamette Valley Company, has recently unveiled FAMOWOOD® GLAZE COAT® HIGH BUILD EPOXY COATING, another innovative solution for crafters and home improvement DIYers.

This ultra-clear, high gloss finish epoxy is versatile enough to be used on just about any surface, either smooth or rough, stained or painted. It’s great for coating tables, bar tops, game boards, preserving photographs, ceramics, or to imbed coins, rocks, sea shells, flowers or any non-waxy material. It can be used on Wood, Cloth, Styrofoam™, Metal, Pine Cones, Leather, Paper, you name it!

Want to see how it works? Watch this table get a cool new makeover using Glaze Coat.

Now watch Mark Montano shows Glaze Coat in action:

The possibilities are endless!  Here’s what some customers on Amazon had to say of their experience with the product:

“This stuff works great. Creates a solid, clear surface.” – David G. Gantt

“Hard and durable. Tried it in crafting this year to make water in a miniature pond to put in a fairy garden. Is holding up beautifully so far.” – Deb in Ohio

“Famowood is pretty amazing. I do resin jewelry and I’ve definitely been through my fair share of tests and experiments.” – Cilla

Click here for more uses and fun project ideas!

About Eclectic Products, Inc.
Headquartered in Eugene, Oregon, Eclectic Products specializes in adhesive/patch/coatings and repair products ranging from 0.18 oz. tubes to industrial totes and drums. The company offers powerful brands with exceptional performance and high-level technical R&D abilities. Eclectic Products has earned numerous awards for product performance, innovative design and excellence from organizations such as the National Retail Hardware Association, HGTV Magazine and Handyman Magazine. Eclectic’s manufacturing facility based in Pineville, Louisiana has also been recognized by the State of Louisiana for demonstrating exceptional quality of work and a commitment to community. All products are proudly made in the U.S.A.

2016 APWA North American Snow Conference

APWA_snow_show_2016

Wait, it’s not even summer and we’re already thinking about snow and ice? You betcha! Snow and Ice management is a huge challenge to our infrastructure, so now is the time for public works professionals to prepare for next winter!

That’s why we’re headed to Hartford, CT later this month for four days of winter training and exhibiting new concrete maintenance solutions at the 2016 APWA North American Snow Conference. The special conference will bring together more than 2,000 snowfighters from every corner of the winter maintenance community, including our own representatives from POLYQuik, a division of Willamette Valley Company.

Snow and Ice Conference

The 2016 Conference is an excellent opportunity for us to introduce public works professionals to our high-performance concrete repair products, custom application systems and more.

Organizers will also be presenting quality education programs and technical tours, and opportunities to exchange ideas with manufacturers, distributors, consultants and other public works professionals.

The APWA North American Snow Conference is hosted by the APWA New England Chapter (and who would know more about snow and ice?). Be sure to stop by booth 441 to learn more how POLYQuik products are an effective solution to common concrete maintenance challenges relating to snow and ice.

About APWA
The American Public Works Association is an international educational and professional association of public agencies, private sector companies, and individuals dedicated to providing high quality public works goods and services. Originally chartered in 1937, APWA is the largest and oldest organization of its kind in the world, with headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri, an office in Washington, D.C., and 64 chapters throughout North America. APWA provides a forum in which public works professionals can exchange ideas, improve professional competency, increase the performance of their agencies and companies, and bring important public works-related topics to public attention in local, state and federal arenas.

To learn more, read our post 5 Ways American Public Works Association Impacts Your Community or visit www.apwa.net.