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The key to smarter robot collaborators may be more simplicity

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Maybe if self-driving cars did not have to process all the details of every move they made, they might be able to more around more nimbly.

When we are driving on the road, our brains are processing so much information sub consciously. We are scanning the surrounding vehicles, anticipating their next move, and contemplating how we might respond. We even wonder how our moves might influence other drivers to act.

Robots have to do the same things that we do to operate in our world. Researchers have come up with new ways of enabling robots to better model our behavior. The researchers from Virginia Tech and Stanford University will be presenting their innovation to the annual International Conference on Robot Learning which takes place next week.

They plan to make robots more efficient by designing them to only analyze the major moves of other drivers on the road instead of analyzing each detail. This will enable them to predict their next actions faster and to respond swiftly.

A Theory of Mind

Robot makers are usually guided from Psychology’s theory of mind which posits that people are guided by their understanding of other people’s beliefs in their effort to empathize with and interact with them.

According to the Theory of Mind, young children master this skill and use it throughout their lives.

If robots can come up with a system for predicting the next moves of other actors, they can operate more efficiently on the road.

According to Stanford Professor Dorsa Sadigh, when two people are doing something simple like moving a table, they go by simple things like their discernment of the force from collaborators as they push or pull to make their next move.

A robot store could use this to remember basic descriptions of the actions of the agents surrounding. For example a robot playing a team sport could take note of the movements of its opponents and classify them as right, center, and left.

This data is enough to come up with two algorithms: one for predicting an opponent’s next move, and another for determining its own response.

The second algorithm will also track the opponent’s responses to the robot’s own responses, in order to allow the robot to learn how to influence its opponents.

The key feature of this innovation is that the robot handles minimal data and is therefore able to train itself as it goes along.

Usually, a robot in such a situation would remember not only the exact coordinates of every one of its opponent’s steps but also the direction in which they were moving.

This might seem like an approach that will yield greater accuracy, but that is not how the human mind operates. The human mind goes by simple clues and does not process too much information on the fly.

Future Uses

There are still a lot of questions that will only be answered in the long run. At the moment for example, researchers are working with the assumption that robots only interact in finite interactions.

Researchers assumed that robot cars involved in simulating self-driving were only experiencing single interactions with other cars in every training session. But that is not how driving works.

Cars interact with each other continuously and a self-driving car needs to keep learning and adapting its actions with every interaction.

Sadigh explains that the approach assumes that robot designers know how best to describe the behavior of other actors on the road. They thought of using ‘left’ ‘center’ and ‘right’ to describe the actions of opponents in an air hockey game.

These labels will become much less obvious when the interactions are not as simple. Researchers are still optimistic about their innovation being a game changer. By bridging the gap that separates human-AI interaction and multi-agent learning, scientist never stop learning because it is an important new field of research.

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Smart Home Gadgets That Are Worth Investing In

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As the years go by, even homes are now getting smarter.  A smart home is a dwelling place that uses electronic devices that are connected to the internet allowing it to be controlled and monitored remotely. This innovation has greatly improved the home owner’s life because, with the ability to take control of everything with lesser physical interaction, the owner can do worthwhile things while having the control system right in front of him.

If you own a home and you would want to consider installing some of these gadgets, here is a list of the most useful devices you can invest in for your home.

Smart Doorbell

Upon entering your home, you can start introducing a smart doorbell to take care of those visitors coming to your home. Can you imagine being disturbed by a visitor or a delivery man while you are enjoying watching a movie? A smart doorbell can actually make you undisturbed. You can opt to install video doorbells that have a built-in camera, speaker, and microphone so you can see from your phone or a monitor who is outside and you can directly speak to that person without opening the door. Being able to respond to your visitor remotely can be very convenient. It also allows you to keep a record of their faces, imagine if it was a suspicious visitor at your doorstep.

Smart Lock

This can be best paired with a video doorbell. If you wish to let a visitor enter your house, you can open your door with just a click from your phone, or the other way around, if it’s a stranger you see from the monitor, then you can activate all your security locks and make a call and report to the authorities. 

Smart Light Bulbs and Lighting Control

One common thing that you want to automate is your light system, it should be able to switch out, brighten or dim itself as you move inside your home. You can easily control it using your voice, a Bluetooth device, or a mobile application that you can easily download on your phone. Installing a smart light bulb is easy, they can replace conventional light bulbs that you may have installed initially or you can just install it like any other ordinary light bulb in a newly built home. Then you just have to connect it to your home Wifi through a smart hub. A smart hub can be purchased when you get the smart bulb. Just keep in mind that you need to read the instructions and follow each step when syncing your lighting system.

Smart Thermostat

Smart temperature controllers can give your home the perfect temperature setting depending on the time of day and the number of occupants inside a room. It allows you to set the time you desire when cooling or heating the rooms in your home. Thus, offering a convenient and efficient way of controlling your heating and cooling system and giving you a reasonable cost on energy consumption.

Smart Cooker

If you love to cook, this smart cooker is a piece of must-have equipment in your kitchen. It is a programmable multi-cooker and it can be controlled using your mobile phone. You can use your phone to set the cooking duration time, adjust heat settings, and monitor what you are cooking. You do not need to stand and check the status of the food, instead, you will just receive notifications from your phone. There are also smart pots that give you pre-installed recipes that even those who are not gifted to cook can learn using this smart cooker. 

Smart TV

Smart TVs have been very popular since streaming became a trend. With your smart TV, you can enjoy watching movies, series, and music videos, too. The fast growth of models has enabled gaming also accessible as well as social media access using a smart TV. Many of these TVs are now integrated with the smart lighting system and smart locks. Using your TV to monitor and control is now available because of these upgrades. 

There are several benefits we can get when we invest in these Smart gadgets for our homes. One of which is the ability and convenience of controlling your devices with an app that may be on your phone, tablet, or a voice-controlled assistant. Smart devices can also provide you with real-time data, for example with security information and energy consumption. These investments may not yet take away all your chores but one thing is for sure now, they can make you save time and money. 

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