Sometimes all it takes to get help from someone is to wave at them, or point. Now the same is true for robots. Researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden have completed work on an EU project aimed at enabling robots to cooperate with one another on complex jobs, by using body language.
Dimos Dimarogonas, an associate professor at KTH and project coordinator for RECONFIG, says the research project has developed protocols that enable robots to ask for help from each other and to recognize when other robots need assistance — and change their plans accordingly.
“Robots can stop what they’re doing and go over to assist another robot which has asked for help,” Dimarogonas says. “This will mean flexible and dynamic robots that act much more like humans — robots capable of constantly facing new choices and that are competent enough to make decisions.”
As autonomous machines take on more responsibilities, they are bound to encounter tasks that are too big for a single robot. Shared work could include lending an extra hand to lift and carry something, or holding an object in place, but Dimarogonas says the concept can be scaled up to include any number of functions in a home, a factory or other kinds of workplaces.