Robotic Software Start-up Looks to Make Robots Learn

Friday, June 28, 2013

Robotic software startup Neurala says its software aims to serve as the “brain” for robots, allowing them to process information sources and learn in a similar way to the human brain — ultimately enabling robots to work autonomously from humans.

The world’s first robot intelligence software designed for widespread commercial use was unveiled recently by Neurala, Inc., a Boston-based robotics software startup. Unlike previous commercial robotics software, which relied on programming for repetitive tasks or operation by remote control, Neurala’s software enables robots to learn and adapt to their environment without human intervention.

The service robotics market is expected to rise to nearly $ 23-billion by 2015, according to the International Federation of Robotics. Much of the increase is driven by the declining costs of robotic hardware. For instance, robotic sensors which cost thousands of dollars just a few years ago are now available for less than $10. The price break is partially because of the use of similar sensors in smartphones and other mobile devices, which has driven down the cost for commercial sensors.

Neurala's features for teleprescence robotics
Neurala's features for teleprescence robotics
“Even with low hardware prices for robots, robotic software has been lagging behind. As a result, the utility of robots in the office and home has been limited. Neurala’s new technology provides a simple interface that makes it easy for consumers to operate robots,” said Massimiliano “Max” Versace, founder and CEO of Neurala.

Neurala’s first product for the telepresence market will enable robots to learn places and faces, allowing the robots to autonomously navigate dynamic environments freeing the user from driving the robot. As the video above demonstrates, robots can be operated by simple commands, such as “Find Bob” and “Go to the conference room” instead of by a joystick on a remote control.

Neurala for Telepresence’s app, loaded with the “find places” functionality, can also be enhanced through our cloud-based add-ons. These include:
  • FIND FACES. Your robot will be able to autonomously identify and remember people. Now your robot is ready to respond to simple commands like “Find Shelly.” Combined with FIND PLACES, a robot will learn typical locations of people in your home or office.
  • FOLLOW ME. Your robot will be able to walk alongside a person. Touch the “Follow” button underneath a person learned by the robot and you’ll be able to converse with someone walking down the hall or in your home.
  • FIND OBJECTS. Your robot will be able to identify and remember objects.
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Neurala's software works by taking in information from multiple sensors, processing the information sources simultaneously (as the human brain does) and then making decisions based on the information.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity to offer Neurala’s software upgrade for every Romo that we sell to our customers. The technology that Neurala is building has the potential to make our robot, and all robots, into adaptive learning beings,” said Keller Rinaudo, founder and CEO of Romotive.

"What people really want is for robots to be told what to do, and then have them do it autonomously," Versace said. "That's how robots will be able to work with humans in the future. The way to do this is to give them autonomy, and ultimately they have to do it similar to how humans do it."

SOURCE  Boston Business Journal

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