Uncover the robot of alphabet “moon landing factory”: two challenges in the field of Robotics


Tencent technology news on November 23, at 1:30 p.m. every day, robot people will queue up to the cafe. The one armed robots glide into the dining area on four wheels and shuttle between the intricate dining tables.
Just as hunters track their prey, they rotate their binocular sized heads and stare at their surroundings through a series of cameras and sensors. Additional vision is provided by laser radar sensors, similar to sensors on autopilot cars. If these robots are armed, their presence may cause panic. Fortunately, however, custom rubber cleaning brushes are installed at the end of each robot arm.
Every day robots of alphabet “moon landing factory” x may not be as gorgeous as those of Boston power, but they are optimized to complete many daily tasks
The goal of these robots is the desktop. They go to the table and meditate for a few seconds to determine if anyone is seated. If someone eats, they move on until they find an empty table. After staying for a second, perhaps in internal calculation, the robot rotates and expands its limbs, extends its arms over the table, and methodically covers the surface with a transparent disinfectant.
Then it retracts its arms and pushes the excess liquid into the bucket on the base. When the task is finished, it moves on, looking for another empty table to clean. After lunch, people don’t even bother to look up because these robots have been working here for weeks.
Every day robot’s head is equipped with many cameras and sensor arrays, which looks like it has five eyes
However, this is not a desperate attempt to solve the labor shortage, but a study of the everyday robots project conducted by laboratory X of the “lunar landing factory” of Google’s parent company alphabet. The cafe test site is one of dozens of test sites located in Google Park in mountain view, California. Some of the company’s huge employees have now returned to work.
Help solve two major problems in the field of Robotics
This project hopes to make robots useful and able to operate in an open environment, not only in controlled environments such as factories. After years of development, everyday robots have finally been sent to the real world to do practical work, at least out of the X headquarters building. They let robots sort garbage into appropriate recycling bins, and cleaning services may represent the next frontier in the field of robotics.
Alphabet lab X has manufactured more than 100 daily robots at Mountain View headquarters
Every day robots is challenging two major problems in the field of robotics. These challenges are so difficult that many people question whether this effort is worth it. The first challenge is to reliably complete the task of a human assistant. Every day robots is on the edge of “moravik paradox”. Moravik paradox holds that computers are relatively easy to perform difficult cognitive work, while it is extremely difficult to copy the cognitive function of two-year-old children.
In the field of alphabet participation, robots are also used to navigate on complex traffic routes, drive cars safer than humans, and defeat human go champions. In the world of everyday robots, conquering an ordinary task seems more important, such as walking through a messy room and opening a tricky door handle, which is like winning the “super bowl”.
X’s robot is wiping the table in Google cafe
For example, the activity of wiping the table is not just wiping, but a complete set of table wiping actions need to be set in advance. Suppose what happens when the road is blocked by people or objects? “The correct response of the robot is: do I have enough space to move gracefully? Or do I need to completely change my route?” said Darcy grinolds, head of the hardware reliability and design verification team of the project.
The second challenge that everyday robots is trying to solve is to move towards this goal in a cost-effective and efficient way, so that people are used to being next to a robot rather than a boring, low paid human.
Everyday robots try to open the door
Google and the lab known as X have been obsessed with achieving this vision for years. Leading the everyday robots team is the Norwegian engineer Hans Peter brondmo, an entrepreneur and engineer who joined X in 2015. He must find out the discordant voice of former director Andy Rubin’s acquisition of robots, who left apple on charges of sexual harassment.
Astro teller, CEO of X, said: “brondmore is not an obvious choice. He cares about the development of robot technology, but he will be the first person to tell you that he is not the world’s top robot expert. I chose him because he is a world-class entrepreneur who really knows people.”
In the office where he built a robot arm without too many functions as a teenager, brondmore explained that only with the latest progress in machine learning, it is possible to make effective general-purpose machines. Engineers use machine learning to train software to recognize objects and then run millions of simulations to compress weeks of testing into hours.
This helps the clumsy robots in his laboratory really understand their environment, accumulate a tool set based on this knowledge, and help solve the inevitable dilemma in an uncontrolled environment. Although everyday robots may not be as gorgeous as the robots in the Boston Dynamics video, they are optimized to accomplish more tasks.
Hans Peter brondmore, general manager of everyday robots project of X, and his “two friends”, are the most advanced robots on the left and the robot arm made in Norway when he was a teenager on the right

Brondmore added: “Yes, you can see a very cool robot back somersault demonstration on youtube, but these robots know nothing about the surrounding environment. You may say that our robots are slow, but they are actually completely autonomous. They work in the world we live in. They are actually learning to do something, and these simple tasks become more and more complex. We bring robots that can live and work with us into the world we live in, not into the world they live in. ”
Two major tests need to be passed before putting into practice
Mrinal kalakrishnan, head of learning at everyday robots It shows his team how to train the robot to open the door, which is a necessary skill for the robot to work in the Google park. For example, entering the conference room and determining whether there is excessive toxic carbon content through sensors. The training to open the door latch took less than 10 hours. But once a single robot learned something, this knowledge will be sent back to the whole robot The team’s collective cloud intelligence, and then all robots can use this skill to open the door.
At first, it’s shocking to see these robots monitoring the conference room and cleaning the table. But then you ask yourself: why does alphabet spend millions of dollars on robots that can easily do housework for three-year-old children? The corollary of moravik’s paradox is Samuel Johnson, an 18th century writer and lexicographer A woman preached to a dog walking on its hind legs, “although it’s not good, you’ll be surprised to find that someone will do it!”
Sometimes, at every day robotics, it does very well. The most incredible demonstration is the carefully choreographed robot dance. Three robots and resident artist CATIE Cuan of the development team Performed a creepy emotional ballet together. Katie Kan is a dancer studying for a doctorate in robotics at Stanford University. Observing her movements and coordinating her actions through the cloud, the robot performs complex human replication interactions and spends her free cycle providing impromptu music produced by the sample library of the London Symphony Orchestra.
When performing Katie Kan’s choreography, the robot responds to her movements and spontaneously generates soundtracks from samples from the London Symphony Orchestra
Before everyday robotics can be really useful, two real tests need to be passed: first, they must be cheap enough to become a cost-effective alternative to human labor; second, they must be flexible enough to deal with the almost unlimited number of unplanned obstacles they encounter in the chaotic reality that human beings can easily control. X Engineer Benjie Holson (Benjie Holson), who grew up in a puppeteer’s family, said his views were very helpful to his current work. He admitted that if the robots cleaning the table got soy sauce instead of disinfectant, they would be happy to dirty the surface of the table with soy sauce.
There are still numerous challenges to let robots know whether their rubber cleaning brushes are spraying soy sauce and solving countless other unexpected setbacks in the real world. But not long ago, robot translation or creative writing seemed equally elusive. When assessing the progress of the team, brondmore thought we were on the verge of breakthrough. He pointed to his mobile phone and said: “This does not mean that robots will soon become a reality, but the next generation will treat robots as we treat these things.”
It can be said that it may take a long time before all of us dance with robots every day. But brondmore and Taylor believe that robots will wipe the table one day. When asked about the business case of every day robots, Taylor guessed that ordinary customers will not buy them like Roombas, but arrange to send robots with service providers Whether it’s cleaning the company’s office or helping elderly customers go to the toilet, Taylor said: “do I hope robots can help me live more independently for a longer time? Absolutely. I would be very shocked if I didn’t have such robots when I was old.” (reviewed by Tencent technology / Jinlu)