Toyota Research Institute Reaches New Technical Milestones In Robotics


Toyota Research Institute (TRI) unveiled new robotics capabilities aimed at solving complex tasks in home environments. Specifically, TRI roboticists were able to train robots to understand and operate in complicated situations that confuse most other robots, including recognising and responding to transparent and reflective surfaces in a variety of circumstances.

The robust system allows robots to make generalisations in a range of scenarios, including in different homes. The video, released on National Selfie Day, takes a tongue in cheek approach to capturing these new capabilities on film, as the robot is seen recording itself as it proudly performs these new skills around the house.

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While a human can easily differentiate between an object and its reflection, transparent or reflective items commonly found in the home befuddle today’s robots. Since most robots are programmed to react to the objects and geometry in front of them without considering the context of the situation, they are easily fooled by a glass table, shiny toaster or transparent cup.

No system is perfect, and the announcement adds to the body of knowledge helping robots to reliably navigate and operate in home environments. This technical achievement enables a robot to quickly learn from “programmable data” — synthetic data to recreate and learn from past failures and is a promising milestone for TRI and roboticists everywhere.