If you’re one of those people that forget their car keys in the most unconventional places, then this is the robot for you.
According to a press statement release, Scientists at MIT have built a robot arm called RFusion that makes use of a gripper, a camera and a radio frequency antenna to locate lost household items for its owner.
In a paper published by the team, the robot’s impressive hunting skills are explained as it can locate and retrieve objects even if they are blocked by other objects and out of view in the camera. But here’s the catch: you need to attach battery-free RFID tags to your valuable possessions that will send signals to the antenna on the robot and retrieve the object for you. You better start deciding which objects you’re going to tag (probably the whole household?)
Fadel Adib, senior author of the study explained in MIT’s statement, “This idea of being able to find items in a chaotic world is an open problem that we’ve been working on for a few years. Having robots that are able to search for things under a pile is a growing need in industry today. Right now, you can think of this as a Roomba on steroids, but in the near term, this could have a lot of applications in manufacturing and warehouse environments.”
When the robot receives the signal sent by a specific RFID tag, it makes use of the camera footage to make its way to the object’s location by applying reinforcement-learning enabled approach to find a clear path. The reinforcement learning algorithm used in RFusion enables the robot to make the fewest movements as possible to get to the object, making it self-efficient as well. Once it has the object in its hand, it scans it one last time to make sure it caught the right object. (Who knew robots could doubt themselves just like us?)
The researchers hope that this machine can be commercially available in the future for manufacturing and warehouse settings where hundreds of products are lost along the supply chain every year