Intelligent robots are being taught how to do many different skill based tasks, like cooking food, working in warehouses, and surprisingly, how to hunt prey.
A team of scientists at the Institute of Neuroinformatics at the University of Zurich in Switzerland is teaching a robot predatory behaviors, specifically the skills needed to mark its target and then pounce.
At first this may seem like a plan that going to lead to the doom and downfall of the human race, but in truth the scientist’s intentions are much less terrifying. Their goal is to create a program that enables robots to observe their immediate surroundings, choose a target, and then track it in real time.
The applications of this type of skill are far reaching. In the opinion of Tobi Delbruck, professor at the Institute of Neuroinformatics, “One could imagine future luggage or shopping carts that follow you.” In this type of scenario, the robot would behave much less like a hungry wolf stalking its prey, and more like a loyal dog, following its owner where ever he goes.
At the heart of the machine lies a synthetic eye modeled after the form and function of a natural human eye. This silicon retina was created as part of the VISUALISE project. It enables robots to track their targets by monitoring changes in illumination of individual pixels. This kind of optic sensor is able to transmit data in real time, a normal camera, which rapidly creates a series of still images, which when played quickly enough gives the illusion of motion.The free flowing data input allows a neural network to process the information more fluidly, helping the robot learn and adapt.
Through repeated trials, the robot will improve, and will make decisions based on previous experiences.