By Erin Corbett
January 17, 2019

Researchers have designed a robot operating system that can process and understand how-to instructions, and put them into action, Science News reports.

Dileep George, an artificial intelligence and neuroscience researcher at Vicarious AI in San Francisco, and colleagues have programmed a robot to read and understand visual instruction manuals and build things from them. These robots might even be able to assemble IKEA furniture, known for its difficult construction, which has “some of us [screaming] at the mere sight of a hex key,” as Lifehacker describes.

In most cases, robots need to be programmed with very exact instructions on how to move around.

“Even when you try to teach robots by demonstration, they’re just repeating the exact same motions you show them, not the concept underlying them,” said George.

But in their abstract, the researchers describe the new robot as having “a computational framework that replicates aspects of human concept learning.” The operating system was able to learn 500 general concepts, including how to “arrange objects in a circle,” according to Science News.

The robot’s instructions include commands for it to analyze a visual scene, in addition to “directing gaze and attention, imagining new objects, manipulating the contents of a visual working memory, and controlling arm movement,” according to the abstract.

In other words, this robot could save you from ever needing to assemble your own IKEA furniture again.

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